UA sees Liddell’s starburst
Pine Bluff Dollarway football player Josh Liddell, right, addresses the media after he signed a letter of intent to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks during an event Wednesday in Pine Bluff.
PINE BLUFF - When Josh Liddell’s stars changed, it didn’t take an astrologer to predict his future.
Liddell, a Pine Bluff Dollarway senior offensive and defensive back, was rated a three-star prospect at the end of the 2013 season by most of the recruiting services that rate high school football players. In mid-December, almost overnight, his rating jumped to four stars out of a possible five and recruiting interest soared.
Dollarway Coach Cortez Lee said his telephones began ringing as never before as Georgia, LSU, Tulsa, Texas Tech and others took note.
“He just became the next guy in line, and we were shocked,” Lee said. “We were like, ‘Man, Georgia just called.’ Or, ‘Texas Tech just called.’ Before that we weren’t getting that sort of attention.”
Arkansas eventually won out as Liddell signed a national letter of intent with the Razorbacks on Wednesday afternoon in front of dozens of Dollarway students, teachers, coaches and administrators at the Dollarway fieldhouse.
“Man, it’s been wild, just kind of crazy,” Liddell said. “There were a few offers late in the process with Boise State and Georgia showing interest, but I’m glad the whole process is finally over with.”
Dollarway Athletic Director Lee Hardman, who coached the school to multiple state championships in the 1980s and 1990s and led Arkansas-Pine Bluff into the Southwestern Athletic Conference, said he is confident Liddell will succeed at Arkansas.
“He has all the intangibles,” Hardman said. “He’s fast. He’s big. He’s self-motivated. He’s the kind of kid who’s going to be as good as he can be”
Liddell, 6-2, 190, 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, excelled at several positions. He was a three-year starter at safety, where he had 19 interceptions for his career, and played every skill position on offense. He rushed for 1,278 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior, averaging 11.4 yards a carry. He also completed 44 of 58 passes (75.9 percent) for 1,257 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Liddell said Arkansas coaches have told him he would be looked at first on defense.
“They said that once I get that down, under control at safety, they’ll look at me on offense,” Liddell said. “Maybe running back or wide receiver.”
Liddell orally committed to Arkansas State originally, but he changed his mind after Coach Bryan Harsin left to become the head coach at Boise State.
“I was looking forward to going [to Arkansas State] and him being my head coach,” Liddell said. “At the same time, it’s a business and I understand the process.”
Liddell said Harsin offered him a scholarship to Boise State.
“They have a great program, and great tradition,” Liddell said. “I loved their staff, and the campus was amazing, but once I took all my visits I came to the conclusion that Arkansas was the best for me.”
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/06/2014