Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007.
Three Greyhounds drawing interest
LB Khairan Stafford (left), RB Carl Turner (middle) and OL Jesse Simmons (right) gives Newport three major college prospects.
Newport has three athletes receiving interest from Arkansas and others and will likely see more schools involved in the future.
Junior linebacker Khairan Stafford, junior offensive lineman Jesse Simmons and sophomore running back Carl Turner lead the Greyhounds to a 9-3 record and the second round of the playoffs.
Stafford, 6-2, 225, 4.6 seconds in the 40 yard dash, recorded 108 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 recovered fumbles as a junior despite missing 1½ games because of a sprained ankle. Video highlights CLICK HERE
“He played early on with some injuries,” said Newport Coach Don Harrison. “That’s why some of his numbers aren’t that great. The first two or three weeks, he really wasn’t full speed. As we got going he became healthy and you could see what he could do and how good he is.”
In addition to Arkansas, Stafford is seeing interest from Missouri.
“He’s incredibly fast and quick,” Harrison said. “His hands are so big and strong.”
Stafford uses his 3.8 grade point average to good use on the field.
“He understands our defense really well and does a great job of reading and reacting,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the late Justin Brown, a former Razorback defensive end from Newport was a cousin of Stafford.
Simmons, 6-4, 265, 4.9, has shined for the Greyhounds over the last two seasons and has the frame to add much more weight. Video highlights CLICK HERE
“He started every game at left tackle for the last two years,” Harrison said. “He started as a sophomore. He’s your prototypical left tackle, big wingspan, great feet.”
Simmons graded out at 91 percent and had 31 tackles and seven tackles for loss during spot duty on defense this past season. Harrison said he expects Simmons to get bigger.
“His dad and uncles are really big man,” Harrison said. “Has a chance to be really large.”
Simmons, Stafford and Turner visited the Hogs for the Mississippi State game in Little Rock.
“It was great experience,” Simmons said. “I was standing on the sideline watching them warm up and being right there, I was part of it.”
He was able to mingle with offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
“He said I was a good size boy,” Simmons said. “He seems interested.”
Turner, 5-10, 210 pounds had 1,703 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman and rushed for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns this season while being hobbled by an injured foot. Video highlights CLICK HERE
“He’s unbelievable,” Harrison said. “He’s one of the better athletes I’ve coached. The size of his legs are ridiculous. He runs with a little bit of an attitude.”
Harrison believes more schools will get involved with Turner.
“After this year, I believe a lot of people will be interested in him,” Harrison said.
Turner, who’s also drawing interest from Ole Miss, isn’t sure of his 40 yard dash time.
“I haven’t ran the 40 in two years and it was a 4.6 then,” Turner said.