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:
Hog ties made difference for offensive lineman
Offensive tackle Brian Wallace Jr. was one of the best at his position during the week of practice before the U.S. Army All American game on Saturday.
Offensive tackle Brian Wallace Jr. and his parents, Brian and Leslie, were wowed by the Razorbacks during their Dec. 7 official visit to Arkansas.
Wallace, 6-6, 304 pounds, 5.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash, played for St. Louis Christian Brothers College High School and orally committed to Arkansas on Jan. 4 during the nationally televised U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio. He chose Arkansas over Alabama and more than 20 other schools.
Wallace also took official visits to Alabama, Missouri and Iowa. He and his father also made an unofficial visit to Arkansas in August.
“When I went back, I felt like I fit in,” Wallace said of his official visit. “I compared all four colleges that I was looking at, and I was thinking to myself which one could I see myself at and which one gives me that feeling and it was Arkansas. I felt like that was the one.”
Wallace said he wa s swayed by the time he spent with player host Dan Skipper, a freshman offensive lineman, and the other Razorbacks as well as Coach Bret Bielema and offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
“I got to know them and also got to know the coaches,” Wallace said. “Matter of fact, I got to go to Coach Bielema and Coach Pittman’s house and hung out with them.”
He marveled at Bielema’s house.
“It was fun,” Wallace said. “It was probably one of the biggest houses I’ve seen.”
Wallace’s parents came away equally impressed with Arkansas. His father said the people at Arkansas make him feel confident about the future of the program.
“There’s a lot of great people there and a lot of great resources,” said Wallace Sr., whose late father was from northeast Arkansas. “I have no doubt that Arkansas … they’re going to be on top,especially with Coach B and Coach Pittman.”
Leslie Wallace, who made all of the official visits except for Iowa, said it was hard to leave Fayetteville.
“Arkansas was the best time I had,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave. That’s how good of a time I had. I’m serious about that. I did not want to leave.”
Leslie Wallace said Arkansas was detailed with its explanation of what life is like as a student-athlete at Arkansas and was impressed with Ragean Hill, the director of football academic counseling.
“They were very, very informative,” Leslie said. “If there wasn’t anything you didn’t understand, they took the time to break it down, explain it to you, especially Ragean Hill.”
Marcus Sedberry, director of student-athlete development, also received praise.
“He was so informative and broke everything down,” Leslie Wallace said. “I was so excited when we were talking in his office, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t experience that with any other school.”
During the six days leading up to the U.S. Army All-American Game, Wallace was teammates with Arkansas defensive line commitment Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado on the West team. Wallace’s father met Jackson after the game and said the character of Jackson and the Razorbacks players played a major role in his son choosing Arkansas.
“Bijhon is a very well-mannered kid,” Wallace Sr. said. “He wants to be around guys that are like him or guys he wants to be like. You can talk about Dan Skipper and you talk about Denver Kirkland, you talk about Bijhon Jackson.”
Wallace said his high school teammate, defensive lineman Armon Watts, another Arkansas commitment, didn’t impact his decision.
‘The thought of having him there with me at school was nice,” Wallace Jr. said. “It wasn’t really a big factor for me deciding where I go to college.”
Leslie Wallace said she and her husband knew their son was going to be a Razorback before he picked up the Arkansas cap at the game.
“He told us over the course of the week,” she said. “Arkansas was always strong with Brian, but he still wanted to weigh his options just in case, as he should have, but Arkansas always came out on top.”
E-mail Richard Davenport at email@example.com
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/12/2014