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Day had eyes only for Hogs
North Little Rock's Juan Day puts on a Razorback hat Wednesday morning after signing to play football for the University of Arkansas.
Unlike his famous cousin, there was no suspense surrounding the recruitment of North Little Rock tailback Juan Day.
He was all Hog.
Day signed with Arkansas on Wednesday morning at North Little Rock Arena, following through on an oral commitment he made more than a year earlier.
“Typically for our kids, it’s that way,” North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding said. “Our kids, I think, get the message of commitment. I think they get it, they understand it.”
Day, who missed most of his senior season with a knee injury, is the cousin of former Arkansas tailback Cedric Cobbs, one of the state’s most celebrated recruits of the past 25 years.
Cobbs, a Parade All-American after helping lead Little Rock Fair to the Class 5A state championship as a senior in 1998, remained tight-lipped throughout his recruiting process. He never named a leader publicly and didn’t reveal his decision until a signing-day announcement, choosing Arkansas over Texas A&M and Georgia.
Day essentially shut down his recruitment after orally committing to Arkansas on Jan. 7, 2013. There were no other scholarship offers, and his only official recruiting visit was last month to Arkansas.
Any school that called, Bolding said, was told Day only had eyes for Fayetteville.
“I grew up a fan,” Day said. “Growing up, I always wanted to play for the Razorbacks. When they offered me, I jumped on it right away.”
Day rushed for approximately 1,000 yards as a junior, splitting time with senior Altee Tenpenny, who signed with Alabama.
Day, listed at 6-1, 210 pounds as a senior, was poised to possibly reach 2,000 yards last fall before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Week 3 at Pine Bluff.
Day had rushed 12 times for 151 yards and 1 touchdown in the season opener against Lake Hamilton and carried 22 times for 143 yards the following week against Batesville (Miss.) South Panola. He ran for two touchdowns against Pine Bluff before tearing his ACL.
Despite the knee injury, Arkansas never wavered in its commitment to Day.
“He’s just got so much upside to him,” Bolding said. “He’s huge, and he’s going to get bigger. They’re going to build on that and, man, he couldn’t be at a better place to be a running back than the University of Arkansas.”
Day underwent surgery in October to repair his ACL, said he began jogging two weeks ago and is about three months from completing his rehabilitation.
Bolding said Day is right on schedule in his rehabilitation and believes he will eventually play at 230 or 235 pounds at Arkansas. Bolding calls Day the “classic” downhill tailback.
“He hits the hole as good as anybody I’ve ever seen,” Bolding said. “Being on the field with him, it’s one cut and get north and south. At that level that he’s fixing to play at, that’s what they want anyway. Those holes close so fast.”
Cobbs played at 220 pounds as a high school senior when he rushed for 2,043 yards. He ran for 3,027 yards in his career at Arkansas (1999-2003), including 668 as a freshman.
Day didn’t have to lean on Cobbs for recruiting advice but said they talked about a month ago.
“He told me to just keep working hard,” Day said.
Sports, Pages 15 on 02/06/2014