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:
Defensive end has Razorbacks among his top five
SAN ANTONIO - One of the nation’s top prospects, defensive end Solomon Thomas of Coppell, Texas, credits the Arkansas coaching staff for his high interest in the Razorbacks.
Thomas, 6-3, 261 pounds, 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has narrowed his list of more than 30 scholarship offers down to Arkansas, Ohio State, UCLA, Stanford and Texas. He plans to take an official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 24.
He said Coach Bret Bielema and his staff ’s concern for student-athletes is a big reason the Razorbacks are among his finalists.
“They’re really focused on getting back on track and getting their grades right,” Thomas said. “They really celebrate the players getting a better team GPA and the players getting their stuff done. It’s just really nice what they’re doing for the players.”
Thomas said his lead recruiter at Arkansas, running backs coach Joel Thomas, and Bielema are recruiting him the hardest among all the schools pursuing him.
“They’re always sending me letters,” said Thomas, whose sister Ella attends Arkansas. “Coach B and Coach Thomas are always messaging me on Twitter and trying to get me to call.”
National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network rates Thomas a four-star-plus recruit and the No. 24 prospect in the nation.
“He’s quick as a cat,” Lemming said. “He’s super strong and does a good job of controlling the game from his defensive end position. He is the consummate pass rusher, has thick legs, is explosive out of his stance and at times looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon.”
Thomas, who was recently named a second-team All-American by USA Today, said Bielema and Thomas aren’t all about football.
“They don’t just talk about football, they talk about life,” he said. “They really reached out to me and my sister. They’re really focused on me not just as a better football player, but a better person.”FEELING THE LOVE
It’s no secret that linebacker is a major area of need in Arkansas’ 2014 recruiting class.
Highly sought Kenny Young of River Ridge (La.) John Curtis knows the Razorbacks coaching staff wants him in Fayetteville, but Arkansas fans also have let him know about the Razorbacks’ need for linebackers.
“I can tell by the fans,” Young said with a laugh. “Their fans are crazy, man. The fan base is crazy. Every time I post something on Twitter - if it’s ‘Glad to wake up’ - I’ll get a 100 re-tweets from them.”
Young, 6-2, 220 pounds, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said he plans to take an official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 17 and will leave on Jan. 19 to visit Texas A&M. He also plans visits to UCLA and Oklahoma State.
Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith and linebackers coach Randy Shannon have been relentless in pursuing him.
“I see myself possibly playing there,” Young said. “Coach Shannon, he had chemistry with my cousin LaRon Byrd at Miami. He got me excited about Coach Shannon, and he’s the linebacker coach at Arkansas. Coach Smith is real cool, too. They’re all cool.”
Young recorded 122 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 interception, 1 pass deflection, 1 recovered fumble and 1 blocked field goal. He was also named a second-team All-American by USA Today.
Former Arkansas linebacker Jerico Nelson, who attended Destrehan High School, also is helping the Razorbacks.
“I train with him, so he told me a little bit about the program and how it was when he was there,” Young said. “I’m going to give them a chance.” WEIGHING IN
Several Arkansas athletes will take part in today’s Army All-American combine.
Approximately 500 prospects from across the nation registered Thursday and were weighed and measured in their bare feet.
North Little Rock junior receiver K.J. Hill measured 5-11 1/2 and weighed in at 185 pounds. Fort Smith Northside junior defensive end Daytrieon Dean was 6-3, 260 1/2, Little Rock Catholic junior athlete D.J. Brown was 5-9, 174, and Dardanelle junior defensive end Parker Witt was 6-2 1/2, 214.
Sophomore running back Denzel Mitchell of Jonesboro came in at 5-10, 197, and Conway quarterback Breylin Smith was listed at 6-1, 169.
The U.S. Army All-American game will be televised at noon Saturday on NBC.
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.orgUA commitments
ORAL COMMITMENTS WR JARED CORNELIUS 6-1, 190, 4.48, Shreveport Evangel RB JUAN DAY 6-2, 210, 4.5, North Little Rock LB DWAYNE EUGENE 6-2, 220, 4.5 Metairie, (La.) Rummel LB KHALIA HACKETT 6-2, 208, 4.63 Douglasville (Ga.) South DE JAKE HALL 6-5, 230, Springdale Har-Ber K COLE HEDLUND 5-10, 170, Argyle, Texas DL BIJHON JACKSON 6-2, 325, 5.1, El Dorado TE JACK KRAUS 6-5, 240, 4.9, Bentonville WR COREY MCBRIDE 6-2, 180, 4.34 Geismar (La.) Dutchtown WR TORRANCE MOSLEY 5-10, 175, 4.4 Geismar (La.) Dutchtown CB CHRIS MURPHY 5-10, 180, 4.4 Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter QB RAFE PEAVEY* 6-2, 208, 4.5 Bolivar, Mo.
TE RAVIAN PIERCE 6-4, 230, 4.53 Plantation, Fla.
OL JOVAN PRUITT
6-6, 295, 5.1 Dallas Bishop Dunne
DB SANTOS RAMIREZ
6-2, 180, 4.55, Shreveport Evangel
CB HENRE TOLIVER
6-1, 180, 4.56 Metairie (La.) Rummel
DL ARMON WATTS
6-5, 270, 5.1 St. Louis Christian Brothers UA SIGNEES
WR CODY HOLLISTER
6-4, 205, 4.5 Arizona Western CC
OL SEBASTIAN TRETOLA
6-4 1/2, 315, 4.9 Iowa Western CC 2015 ORAL COMMITMENTS
DE-TE JAMARIO BELL
6-6, 230, 4.7 Junction City
DE HJALTE FROHOLDT
6-5, 275, Denmark
OL COLTON JACKSON
6-6, 291 Conway
OL ZACH ROGERS
6-3, 295, 5.09 Carrollton (Texas) Hebron
QB TY STOREY
6-3, 217, 4.92 Charleston
*Has signed an institutional financial aid
agreement and will enroll in Jan.
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/03/2014