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:
Lawton lineman enjoys Pittman
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman works with youth football campers June 8, 2013 in Fayetteville.
Arkansas is expected to host offensive lineman Jalin Barnett, one the nation's top prospects, for a visit June 13.
Barnett, 6-31/2, 305 pounds, of Lawton, Okla., has more than 50 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Stanford and Tennessee. ESPN rates him the No. 1 offensive guard and the nation's No. 36 overall prospect.
Barnett said Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman has made a good impression.
"Coach Pittman is a really cool guy," said Barnett, who has a 3.8 grade point average. "He really seems interested in me. I like that about him. He's really eager to get me up there."
Pittman visited Barnett's school twice during the spring evaluation period that ended on Saturday.
"Sam Pittman has come out here and has just made everybody Arkansas fans," Lawton Coach Randy Breeze said. "He's a good guy. We really like him here."
Breeze recalls Barnett's response to seeing Pittman arrive on campus.
"Every big school has been in here," Breeze said. "Jalin saw coach Pittman and just smiled. He had a big ol' smile. He was glad to see coach Pittman."
Barnett said he is impressed by Pittman's reputation as a developer of talent and a resume that includes coaching 14 offensive linemen who have been drafted into the NFL.
"He's put a lot of kids in the league," Barnett said of Pittman. "He said I have great potential to be one of them."
Breeze said Barnett took it upon himself to slim down without any urging from the coaching staff.
"He dropped 20 pounds last month, he's down to 305," Breeze said. "He's running a little bit better. He never did run bad."
Breeze said many college coaches have come to campus with a posititive attitude about Barnett, only to leave with even more respect.
"We had some coaches come in here and say, 'Coach, we're recruiting him because we understand he's one of the better ones in the country and now that we've been here to see him, we think he's probably the No. 1 lineman in the country," Breeze said. "We've had multiple coaches tell us that."
Barnett, who wears a size 17 shoe, has recorded a 350 pound bench press and 480 squat.
"He's one of the few kids I've been around that benches the same as he inclines," Breeze said.
Barnett said he plans to narrow his list around midseason and take all five of his official visits. Arkansas will likely get one of his official visits.
"Great chance," he said.
Two teammates from Port Arthur Memorial High School in Texas are looking to visit Arkansas.
Running backs, Corey Dauphine, a junior who is committed to Texas Tech and sophomore Kameron Martin, are among the top prospects in Texas in their classes.
Dauphine, 6-0, 185, 4.5 seconds in the 40 yard dash, has more than 10 offers, including Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor and Arizona State. He and Martin are being recruited by Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas.
"There is interest in Arkansas," said Dauphine, who believes the Hogs are close to offering him. "I've been talking to coach Thomas. We're going to keep working on the relationship."
Dauphine reports a best of 20.77 seconds in the 200 meters and is planning to run track in college.
"He said they have a good track program," Dauphine said of Thomas.
Dauphine, who rushed for 507 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, said a trip to Fayetteville is looking good.
"Probably sometime this summer," he said.
Martin 5-10, 173, 4.39, has 24 scholarship offers, including school like Arkansas, Florida State, Baylor, Tennessee, Clemson, Ole Miss and others.
"My level of interest in Arkansas is real high," said Martin, who also mentions a summer visit as a possibility.
Martin reports a 4.0 grade point average and is considering sports management or business management as possible majors. He rushed for 1,060 yards on 140 carries and 14 touchdowns last season.
"Coach Thomas was telling me the program fits me and my skills as a running back and how I bring speed to the table," said Martin, who has a best of 20.9 seconds in the 200 meters. "How I am on and off the field. They really like my speed and how they haven't seen a running back like me so early. "
A family atmosphere is must for Martin, who's very close to his mother.
"I want the team to treat me like a little brother," he said. "Welcome me to the program. Since I'm so far away from home, I'm like a momma's boy. Like some people say, I don't like being far away from my momma. I just want to do what's best for me."
Sports on 06/01/2014