Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
THE RECRUITING GUY:
Razorbacks, others working on in-state relations
Randy Shannon, Arkansas assistant coach and linebackers coach, listens during a National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at the university's football complex.
Coaches will tell you that recruiting is all about building relationships.
That’s why Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and others from around the state will be in Hot Springs this weekend for the fifth annual Ronnie Roach Football Clinic.
Bielema and several members of his staff will be on hand to share ideas with approximately 600 high school coaches who are expected to take part in the clinic. Other Arkansas assistants expected to speak to the group include offensive line coach Sam Pittman, running backs coach Joel Thomas, defensive line and specialists coach Rory Segrest and linebackers coach Randy Shannon.
Other notable coaches who will be addressing the group include Arkansas State Coach Blake Anderson, University of Central Arkansas Coach Steve Campbell and Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Monte Kiffin.
Bielema has stressed the importance of recruiting Arkansas first.
“He’s really behind the organization,” Arkansas Football Coaches Association President Billy Elmore said. “He helped line up some out of-state high school speakers that we don’t have contact with, and we’re excited about bringing them in. A lot of our coaches’ contacts are lot of SEC schools on the Division I level, and he helps us with other contacts in other areas.”
College coaches are also members of the organization, and it helps them learn of kids who could be flying under the radar as far as recruiting is concerned.
“It lends itself for building the relationships with the college coaches,” Elmore said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to sit down and visit with some of the coaches about some of our kids and maybe promote some of your kids. If you have some that can play, it’s a great opportunity to get their name out there.”
It’s also an opportunity for coaches to exchange ideas.
“That’s something I would say that’s unique to this clinic,” Elmore said. “There’s a lot of football coaches that go and learn a lot of football. There’s a lot of questions and a lot of meetings outside of meetings.”
EVERYONE LIKES FRANK
One of Arkansas’ prized signees was Victoria (Minn.) Chanhassen offensive tackle Frank Ragnow, who chose the Razorbacks from more than 20 scholarship offers.
Ragnow, 6-6, 291 pounds, 5.0 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is rated a four-star prospect by national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network.
“He’s an athlete,” Lemming said. “He could play offense or defense. He could play guard, center or tackle on offense. Very athletic. He’s one of the top three players in the state of Minnesota.”
Ragnow took official visits to Arkansas, Florida State and Minnesota.
“It just felt right,” Ragnow said of Arkansas. “I love the coaches, the people, the food, the school, the SEC. It’s the place where I know I’m going to be the most successful.”
He praised offensive line coach Sam Pittman’s honesty during the recruiting process and is excited about the challenge of moving to center. He said his parents were on board with his decision.
“They both were 100 percent behind me,” Ragnow said. “They just loved the coaches.”
Chanhassen Coach Bill Rosburg said Ragnow is well thought of at the school. Rosburg estimated 500 students, teachers and community members showed up last Friday for Ragnow’s announcement that he was orally committing to Arkansas.
“He’s well-liked by our student body for the right reasons,” Rosburg said.“He’s supportive of other groups in the building and does well in school.”
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports, Pages 21 on 02/07/2014