The Recruiting Guy:

Florida linebacker wants to size up Razorbacks

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, June 8, 2014
Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon talks with reporters following the Arkansas Razorbacks' national signing day press conference at the Fred Smith Center in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon talks with reporters following the Arkansas Razorbacks' national signing day press conference at the Fred Smith Center in Fayetteville.

Arkansas will host one the its top linebacker prospects, Derrick Graham of Wauchula (Fla.) Hardee, for an unofficial visit today.

Graham, 6-4, 218 pounds, 4.75 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has scholarship offers from approximately 15 schools, including Arkansas, Mississippi State, Iowa State, SMU, Marshall, Florida International and Florida Atlantic. Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith visited Graham's school twice during the spring evaluation period.

Wauchula Coach Buddy Martin said Graham has the physical attributes college coaches are looking for in a linebacker.

"Definitely his length, being truly 6-4," Martin said. "He has long arms, big hands, long legs. He's really what everybody is looking for in a linebacker now. With the evolution of the spread offense, everybody is looking for linebackers more like Derrick."

Graham, who will be accompanied by his older brother, P.J., impressed Smith so much during a May 7 practice that he received a scholarship offer from Arkansas later that day.

"Coach Smith loves his length, his ability to run," Martin said. "Derrick is a very raw, talented kid. He has tremendous upside when he gets to be a part of the program. I think his best football is ahead of him. That's what Coach Smith and other guys have said about him."

Last year was Graham's first season to play linebacker and he recorded 51 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 3 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble. He also had 7 receptions for 168 yards and 1 touchdown.

He started at free safety and receiver as a sophomore. Martin also uses him as a pass rusher.

"We put him on the edge, beating the tackle or tailback off the line of scrimmage and making a big sack for us in a third-down situation," Martin said.

Graham, who has visited South Alabama and Mississippi State, changed the game plan of Bradenton Bayshore after roughing up the quarterback.

"They were running the option, and early in the game he came up and hit the quarterback," Martin said. "They didn't want to run the option anymore after that."


Former running back Knile Davis signed with Arkansas in 2009 out of Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall High School and eventually was taken in the third round in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now the Razorbacks are recruiting Marshall junior quarterback Jeremy Smith, who plans to attend Arkansas' Elite Camp on June 12 in hopes of earning a scholarship offer.

"He played with my older brother," Smith said of Davis. "He said it was a good school and he liked his time up there."

Smith, 6-3, 180 pounds, 4.51 seconds, already has offers from Michigan State, SMU, Oklahoma and Houston and is drawing interest from others.

He completed 21 of 33 passes for 446 yards with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had 13 receptions for 228 yards and 6 touchdowns in limited duty at receiver, and rushed 26 times for 227 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"I like Arkansas a lot," Smith said. "I would rate them high on my scale."

Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings has told Smith the Razorbacks want him at quarterback.

" He said they would use me well at quarterback," Smith said.

Smith said he appreciates Jennings' approach to recruiting.

"I like his personality," said Smith, who has a 3.4 grade-point average and plans to major in kinesiology. "He's cool, funny. He's just been real with me."

Smith's mother, Benita, is the head coach of Marshall's girls track and field team and his father, Stan, helps as a volunteer.


Tulsa Lincoln Christian's Micah Wilson is one of the more promising junior quarterbacks in Oklahoma, and he plans to participate in Arkansas' Elite Camp as well.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has made an impression on Wilson, and the quarterback said he likes the Razorbacks.


"First off, it's not far from home," Wilson said. "It's a big-time school, and they play in the SEC. Why wouldn't I like them?"

Wilson, 6-3, 195 pounds, 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash, also plans to attend camps at Utah, Missouri, SMU and Memphis. He completed 210 of 346 passes for 2,650 yards and 30 touchdowns last year.

"He told me he really liked me and can't wait to see me in camp this summer," Wilson said of Chaney. "He said he liked my pocket presence and he just wants to see me throw at camp."

Wilson has been timed at 52 seconds in the 400 meters and runs on the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays and comes from an athletic family. His father played center for Missouri, was drafted by the New England Patriots and played for the Detroit Lions.

Wilson said an older brother played on a football scholarship at Tulsa and got his master's degree in five years. His middle brother, Roman, graduates Tuesday from Princeton, where he played football and was an FCS All-American.

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports on 06/08/2014