THE RECRUITING GUY :

Arkansas letting Hill know it is really interested

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith, tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman and running backs coach Joel Thomas watching North Little Rock receiver K.J. Hill during the Charging Wildcats' spring game at War Memorial Stadium.
Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith, tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman and running backs coach Joel Thomas watching North Little Rock receiver K.J. Hill during the Charging Wildcats' spring game at War Memorial Stadium.

Arkansas made sure highly recruited receiver K.J. Hill of North Little Rock knew he was a major priority when its five offensive coaches showed up at the Charging Wildcats' spring game on Friday.

Hill said he expected tight ends coach Barry Lunney and wide receivers coach Michael Smith to be in attendance at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium, but not the entire offensive staff.

"That was a big surprise," Hill said of seeing offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman and running backs coach Joe Thomas in attendance, along with Lunney and Smith. "I just thought Lunney and Coach Smitty were going to come out here, but all of them came out here. It was really good, a good feeling."

Hill, 6-0, 190, 4.42 seconds in the 40 yard dash, has scholarship offers from approximately 20 schools, including Arkansas, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Penn State, Louisville, South Carolina and Notre Dame. ESPN rates him the No. 23 receiver prospect and the nation's No. 223 overall prospect.

Hill said he noticed the coaches as he ran on to the field.

"I was like, 'Whoa, What are y'all doing here?' " Hill said. "It was like they were fixing to coach us."

Normally only two coaches can evaluate a prospect in a day, but because the game was off campus, Arkansas was able to have the five coaches in attendance. The Hogs saved evaluation days to ensure the coaches could be there.

Chaney and Pittman began their day in Oklahoma, Smith and Lunney visited several schools in central Arkansas. Thomas spent his day scouting in the Dallas area.

North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding was impressed.

"I think it tells you the type of recruiters they are," Bolding said. "To bring all the offensive coaches from different states here for the last recruiting day for them it's pretty impressive."

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema's staff might have set a new standard.

"Actually, I think it's probably the first in college football history, according to coach Bielema," Bolding said. "Because typically they can't come to the school, but there's a little loophole by playing here (War Memorial)."

Hill had 5 receptions for 115 yards, and 1 touchdown along with a 40-yard touchdown run on a reverse.

Summer camps are next for Hill.

"I'm going to Arkansas' camp, Alabama's camp, I'm going to go up to Notre Dame and Ohio State," he said. "That's it for right now."

Hill said he plans to take his five official visits during the season. A school's coaching is the top priority.

"Can I be around them and can I trust them?" Hill said. "And how I can fit in up there, and if the coach is going to develop me and develop me as a person."

The Hogs look to be in good shape with Hill.

"They're still one of my top schools," he said. "They're always going to be one of my top schools. They're in-state and it's home."

Hill was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Offensive Player of the Year after catching 63 passes for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. He wants a coaching staff that can take his skills to another level.

"Every year I want to go to a different level on my game," Hill said. "Hopefully I get to the NFL, and just be a master of the game mentally and physically."

PREP LEAGUE FORMING

Arkansas is expected to have a prep school operating in the fall and will give football prospects another option towards their goal of playing college football.

Offense-Defense Sports Inc. based in South Carolina plans to have eight prep schools playing in the Southeast Region League this fall. The Arkansas school will be in Little Rock and play at War Memorial Stadium.

A minicamp, information session and workout for all interested players is set for Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. Current high school graduates and others who have any existing college football eligibility remaining are encouraged to attend. Registration will be between 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. More information and registration is also available online at O-D.COM.

Players should bring turf football shoes, T-shirts and shorts.

John Jenkins, a veteran college and professional football coach who played at Arkansas, said the prep school route helps athletes get eligible while not taking away a year of college eligibility.

"Guys that slipped through the cracks or guys that came up just a little short on the test score and they can go through a semester or a season and bump that up," Jenkins said. "Even the gray shirts can play and it doesn't count against their eligibility. It's like a 13th year of high school and they come out with maturity and they'll be in a position to have five years to play four. "

Jenkins along with other veteran coaches will conduct the mini-camp.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 06/03/2014

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