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:
Another lineman considering Hogs
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman instructs his players during an Aug. 31, 2013 game against Louisiana-Lafayette at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Arkansas has oral commitments from two top offensive linemen, Brian Wallace Jr. and Jovan Pruitt, and hope to add highly recruited Andrew Mike to the list after his official visit to Fayetteville this weekend.
Mike, 6-7, 275 pounds, 5.05 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino, has more than 20 scholarship offers, including ones from Arkansas, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington and Florida. He officially visited Washington on Nov. 29.
While in Fayetteville, he said wants to see if he and Arkansas are compatible.
“Meeting the other coaches, particularly the offensive coordinator to see how they run their offense,” Mike said. “See what kind of coaches they are, try to assess their characters and coaching styles. I really want to meet the other players and offensive lineman. I want to be able to fit in as a person. I want to meet other students and see their perspective.”
National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network rates Mike a 4-star prospect.
“He certainly has the length and long arms,” Lemming said. “He has the natural knee bend needed to play the left tackle position in the college. Very aggressive and tough, he regularly takes defenders to the ground when they come around the edge.”
Mike, who played at 290 pounds during the season, plays center for his school’s basketball team. He takes his gridiron mentality to the hardwood and that’s caused some issues.
“Refs don’t let me get physical anymore,” said Mike, who played in the Semper Fidelis All American Bowl on Jan. 5 in Carson, Calif. “I’ve hurt too many guys. I had to change my game last year because refs were throwing me out of games.”
Under offensive line coach Sam Pittman, Arkansas broke the single-season school record by only allowing eight sacks. The Razorbacks led the SEC and were tied for second in the NCAA with an average of 0.67 sacks allowed per game.
Mike said Pittman’s in-home visit in December helped convince him to visit the Razorbacks.
“Their interest level,” Mike on why he’ll visit Arkansas. “I really didn’t know much about Arkansas. The facilities, how the fans love the team. How they treat offensive linemen. Their success on the offensive line last season.”
Mike, who has a 3.91 grade point average, plans to officially visit Florida on Jan. 24 and is considering several schools for the Jan. 31 visit.
Arkansas is evaluating two junior prospects and a sophomore prospect from Newport.
Junior linebacker Khairan Stafford, 6-2, 225, 4.6, is a promising prospect with impressive instincts and closing speed. Arkansas and Missouri are showing interest.
“First and foremost, he’s a great kid,” Newport Coach Don Harrison said. “He’s very, very smart - high grade point average and high character.”
Stafford recorded 108 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 recovered fumbles as a junior while missing 1½ games because of a sprained ankle. He said he is humbled by the attention he’s receiving from college coaches.
“It’s makes me feel good and makes me feel like I’m doing something real great,” Stafford said. “I’m real honored that the schools are looking at me.”
Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. has been in contact.
“I’ve always rooted for Arkansas,” said Stafford, who has a 315-pound bench press. “I’ve been a Hog fan and always been. Hog Nation and A-State are the two schools I’m always rooting for.”
Harrison said he is also high on the talents of junior offensive lineman Jesse Simmons.
“You sleep easier knowing you have a guy like him at left tackle,” Harrison said.
Simmons, 6-4, 265, 4.9, graded out at 91 percent and had 31 tackles and seven tackles for loss during spot duty on defense.
“I’m always wanted to play for them ever since I was little bitty,” Simmons said of the Hogs.
Sophomore running back Carl Turner, 5-10, 210, opened eyes as a freshman with 1,703 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns this season while being hampered by an injured foot.
“Everybody in my family is from Louisiana,” said Turner, who’s drawing interest from Arkansas and Ole Miss. “They all want me to go to LSU, but I like other schools, too.”
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports, Pages 20 on 01/14/2014