Arkansas impresses Texas backs

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. South Carolina defeated Arkansas 52-7. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. South Carolina defeated Arkansas 52-7. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Arkansas played host to about 13 junior prospects Saturday, and highly recruited running back Chris Warren III of Rockwall, Texas, was impressed enough that he plans to return for the spring game April 26.

Warren said he has several friends at his school who have said great things about Arkansas.

“They were not exaggerating anything, this is a great place,” said Warren, whose lead recruiter at Arkansas is running backs coach Joel Thomas. “The people here are great. The coaches are amazing. It feels good to be here in Arkansas.”

Warren, 6-2, 227 pounds, 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, received a scholarship offer from Arkansas during the visit. He has numerous offers from other schools, including Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Stanford, Auburn and Oklahoma.

“It definitely raised Arkansas’ chances for them to be in my final decision,” Warren said. “They’re definitely on the rise with their football program. I can’t wait to see what they do.”

His mother, K’tara, also praised Ragean Hill, Arkansas’ director of football academic counseling.

“I absolutely adored her drive to make sure the athletes have what they need,” she said. “I really liked the fact she said there’s times when they actually have to suspend guys’ activities so, as she put it, they can get academically healthy.”ANOTHER THUMBS-UP

Arkansas has made an impression on another highly sought running back from Texas.

Ronald Jones II of McKinney North High School said Arkansas is now among histop five schools following his visit to Fayetteville.

Jones, 6-0, 185, 4.41, has been offered a scholarship by more than 20 schools, including Arkansas, Alabama,Michigan, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU. He said attending Arkansas’ game against Georgia was one of the highlights.

“I had a real good time,” Jones said. “I got to visit everything and to feel the fans a little bit. We sat behind the students and they stood up the whole game. That was cool.”

Arkansas’ facilities also received a thumbs-up from Jones.

“The facilities were beautiful,” said Jones, who plans to visit Arkansas for its spring game. “They looked brand new. They have a very large weight room, and they have the indoor and the outdoor fields.”

He tweeted out a picture of him with Coach Bret Bielema during his trip.

“He’s cool, he’s a nice guy,” Jones said. “He seems really genuine. He’s going to get the job done. He seems like a people person.”DOING HIS PART

Offensive lineman Zach Rogers, an offensive lineman from Carrollton (Texas) Hebron who is already committed to Arkansas, was on hand to try and convince other prospects to commit to the Razorbacks.

“It’s a great place to be,” Rogers said. “It’s going to take a lot more than just the guys on board now to win games. I’m always trying to find the best guys out there to come join us.”

Rogers, 6-3, 295, 5.09, chose the Razorbacks in July over numerous offers from schools that included UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech.

“It’s just a place I feel like I’m at home,” Rogers said of Arkansas. “I feel like it’s where I can be the best football player I can. There’s no doubt in my mind that’s the place I want to be.”

Rogers also said he has a great amount of respect for Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

“He has a great track record with offensive linemen,” Rogers said. “He gets you prepared for the next level.”STEWART OFFERED

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema extended a scholarship offer to Highland receiver Deon Stewart during his visit.

“I had the biggest grin on my face, and I didn’t really say anything,” Stewart said. “It’s a dream.”

Stewart, 6-1, 163, 4.48, also has offers from Louisville,Ole Miss, Tulsa and Arkansas State. He said a quick decision is unlikely.

“I think I’m going to hold off and wait, but Arkansas is definitely up there,” Stewart said.

He showed off game-breaking ability this past season when he had 36 receptions for 757 yards and 8 touchdowns and rushed 27 times for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Stewart, whose lead recruiter at Arkansas is tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., said receiving an offer from the Razorbacks hasn’t settled in yet.

“My family has always grown up around Arkansas football,” he said. “My grandparents, we all have grown up liking the Arkansas Razorbacks. To get a full-ride scholarship to go there, it’s just so surreal.”

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Sports, Pages 29 on 03/02/2014