Rick Fires is a reporter and columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
National Signing Day:
Hall, Frazier heading to SEC schools
Springdale Har-Ber senior defensive end Jake Hall (94) makes a move around Webb City senior running back Trey Parra during the third quarter of play Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium in Springdale.
SPRINGDALE The good-natured teasing between Josh Frazier and Jake Hall has already begun.
The former Springdale Har-Ber teammates are both headed to the Southeastern Conference this fall after signing football national letters of intent on Wednesday. Hall signed with Arkansas, while Frazier stuck with Alabama.
The two hope to be in uniform when Alabama faces Arkansas in Fayetteville on Oct. 11.
“Jake, me and him kind of get into little arguments about who is going to beat who the next four years,” said Frazier, who played noseguard for the Wildcats. “Jake sits there and laughs and we kind of go back-and-forth about it.”
While Frazier began the year as a top national recruit, Hall used a strong senior season at defensive end to earn a scholarship offer from the Razorbacks. He drew attention with nine tackles against Fort Smith Southside and finished the year with 67 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Hall (6-foot6, 230 pounds) chose Arkansas over scholarship offers from Cincinnati and Louisiana-Monroe.
“When the season rolled around, I finally caught the eye of the Hogs,” said Hall, who wore a Razorbacks jacket after signing at 7:20 a.m. on Wednesday. “It was a long process and I’m very excited that all my hard work has paid off.”
Hall said some college teams were initially interested in him as an offensive lineman. But he wanted to stay on defense and that led to a rigorous off-season program that enabled him to lose 20 pounds and increase his speed.
“Jake’s upside is his work ethic,” Har-Ber coach Chris Wood said. “With Arkansas strength coach, Ben Herbert, Jake is going to continue to develop his body. People will be asking ‘where did this kid come from’? I think he’ll have a solid career by the time he’s finished playing at Arkansas.”
Frazier and Hall were joined by three other Har-Ber football players who signed letters of intent on the first day of the national signing period. Center Sam Struebing signed with Hendrix while offense tackles Isaac Johnson and Chad Birkes signed with Tulsa and Henderson State, respectively.
“When you have guys come in as 10th-graders, you want them to achieve their goals,” Wood said. “So, this is an exciting day to have five guys get scholarship money and continue their education in college.”
Frazier (6-3, 330) decided on Alabama after beginning the year with more than 20 offers from Division I schools, including Arkansas, USC and Texas A&M. He finished the season with 49 tackles and 5 sacks. His best game came against Fayetteville when he had two sacks and intercepted a pass in overtime to secure a Har-Ber victory.
Frazier committed to Alabama in November and his signature Wednesday helped the Tide land what most analyst consider the top recruiting class in the country.
“Alabama has a big foundation and I like the way they do things down there,” Frazier said. “I want coaches who are going to be there for me all four years. Of course, they’re winners and that helps. They were No. 1 in the country at the time I committed.”
Johnson, 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, is also headed to a Division 1 school at Tulsa after starting for two years at offensive tackle. Har-Ber averaged 36.7 points per game last fall with Johnson, Birkes, and Struebing leading the way for Sain Mathew, who set a school single-season rushing record with 1,926 yards.