The recruiting guy:

Haughton likes how safeties are used at Arkansas

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, June 22, 2014
Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings directs his players during practice Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the UA practice field in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings directs his players during practice Thursday, March 20, 2014, at the UA practice field in Fayetteville.

Kahlil Haughton, a major recruiting target at safety, and his mother visited Arkansas on Friday and both came away happy they did.

Haughton, 6-2, 180, 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash from Waco (Texas) Midway, has 23 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Duke.

He spent a good amount of time with defensive coordinator Robb Smith and his lead recruiter, defensive backs coach Clay Jennings, who recruited Haughton while at TCU.

"The coaching staff is great," Haughton said. "I have a good relationship with Coach Smith and Jennings, and when they tell me they're doing something big at Arkansas, I believe them. The facilities were amazing. Very nice."

Haughton, who recorded 87 tackles, 2 interceptions, 13 pass breakups and a forced fumble as a junior, said he believes he would be a good fit in the Hogs' defensive scheme.

"I definitely do," Haughton said. "The way they use their safeties is different from most systems and it gets you prepared for the league. Definitely a beneficial scheme."

National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network sees Haughton as one of the best prospects in Texas.

"He has excellent speed ... loose hips, long arms, quick hands and an explosive take off," Lemming said. "I thought he was the best player in central Texas. He plays with a lot of confidence."

Haughton also runs track, with best times of 48.5 seconds in the 400 meters and 22.3 in the 200. His father, Gregory Haughton, ran the 400 meters for Jamaica in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

The visit to football-crazy Fayetteville appears to have helped the Hogs' chances for Haughton.

"It definitely made a great first impression on me," he said. "Fayetteville is a beautiful place and getting a feel for the community is crazy. Everybody loves Arkansas football, but it also helped me get a chance to meet the coaches and talk more."

He and his mother had a positive meeting with Coach Bret Bielema.

"He's a great guy," Haughton said. "He's done some good things with other programs, and I like what he's trying to do with Arkansas. He's trying to do whatever he can to put them back on the map and win an SEC championship, but at the same time make a great impact in young men's lives."

Haughton's mother, Tanya Antonucci, said she liked the education side of the visit.

"She's more into the academics side, but she liked what the academic advisors did to keep the students on top of their grades and liked how they especially took care of the football players," Haughton said.

'IT'S THE SEC'

Offensive lineman Evan Applegate said the allure of playing in the SEC is a plus for Arkansas, which offered Applegaste a scholarship when he visited Arkansas last Saturday.

"I have offers from the Big Ten and Big 12, but to get an SEC offer is big to me," Applegate said. "It's the SEC, it's the best conference in college football. It doesn't get better than the SEC."

Applegate, 6-7, 285, 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Shawnee (Kan.) Mill Valley, also has offers from Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Kansas State and others.

Applegate said Arkansas' facilities were top notch and he was also impressed with the academic support system. Applegate said he and his father, Randy, hit it off with offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

"Great guy, really enjoyed talking to him," Applegate said. "He's the one that gave me the campus tour and so I got to spend a lot of time with him. He seems like a great coach."

FILLING IN AT THE OPENING

North Little Rock safety Tyler Phillips has received an invitation to The Opening, the prestigious July event that showcases the nation's top 160 prospects at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

Phillips, 6-2, 206 pounds, recorded the best SPARQ rating of 141.36 at the Dallas Nike Combine on May 3. He had an electronically measured time of 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.00 in the pro shuttle, recorded a 40.7-inch vertical leap and tossed the power ball 42 feet.

SPARQ ratings are used as a standardized measure of athletic ability and take into account an athlete's speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness.

Former North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny participated in the first Opening in 2011.

"I've dreamed of going ever since," said Phillips, who has an offer from Ouachita Baptist. "I never really thought I would be able to go though. Now I feel extremely blessed to be invited and I look forward to proving I belong."

He and receiver K.J. Hill will represent the Charging Wildcats at The Opening and will be the only teammates to ever attend the event in the same year.

North Little Rock is the only school in the nation to have a player attend the four-year-old event every year -- Tenpenny (2011, 2012) and defensive back Kavin Alexander (2013).

Phillips received his invitation Friday night.

Email Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 06/22/2014

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