Lineman blocks until whistle blows, and beyond

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman's ability to lure top linemen to Fayetteville continued with the addition of highly regarded Jalen Merrick.
Photo by David Gottschalk
Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman's ability to lure top linemen to Fayetteville continued with the addition of highly regarded Jalen Merrick.

Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman likes what he sees in heavily recruited offensive lineman Gabe Megginson, who received a scholarship offer from the Hogs last week.

“He said he wants the best character in people and the best players, and he said he definitely thinks I’m one of them,” said Megginson, who called Pittman on Wednesday and learned of the offer.

Megginson, 6-5, 280pounds, 5.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Jacksonville, Ill., has 23 other scholarship offers, including ones from Ohio State, Illinois, Louisville, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Penn State.

Pittman’s ability to get linemen drafted into the NFL stands out to Megginson.

“He’s a great coach,” Megginson said. “He told me he’s sent 17 players into the NFL. That’s just incredible on what he’s done. I really enjoyed talking to him.”

Pittman did some research and was able to ease Megginson’s concerns about how long it takes to travel to from Jacksonville, Ill., to Fayetteville.

“He pointed out that it was only seven hours,” Megginson said. “I thought it was a lot farther. A visit is definitely going to happen.”

CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming lists Megginson as one of the nation’s top prospects.

“He impresses you with his mean, tough, nasty, aggressive style of play,” Lemming said. “He shows quick feet, a natural knee bend, good hip flexibility, and the growth potential to weigh at the next level.”

Megginson said he likes to be aggressive and go until the whistle blows.

“I like to go a little after the whistle sometimes, too,” he said with a laugh.

Megginson reports a 345-pound bench press, 300 power clean, 435 squat and 515 dead lift. He received his first offer from Akron at the end of his sophomore year.

Maintaining a strong relationship with his offensive line coach is important to Megginson.

“The relationships are a huge thing, but I’m looking past that because coaches switch all of the time,” Megginson said, noting that Pittman is beginning his second season. “And I didn’t even think of that, so he probably won’t be gone for a long time.” TEXAS SAFETY’S INTEREST GROWS

On Monday, Arkansas extended a scholarship offer to Khalil Haughton, a highly regarded safety whom defensive backs coach Clay Jennings recruited while at TCU.

Haughton, 6-2, 180, 4.44, of Waco, (Texas) Midway now has 17 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Oklahoma,TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Duke. He recorded 87 tackles, 2 interceptions, 13 pass breakups and forced fumble this past season. The Razorbacks have jumped into the mix after making the offer to Haughton.

“They would probably be one of the highest teams out there since they’re in the SEC,” Haughton said. “They’re not a bad team. They just kind of got unlucky during the season, but they’re a team I definitely think has a lot of potential.”

Haughton said he thinks highly of Jennings.

“He’s a guy you could chill with, and be real with, and talk about anything,” said Haughton, who has a 33-inch vertical leap.

Haughton, who has a 3.7 grade point average and is considering sports medicine as a major, has visited Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Duke and Texas. He said he’s not the norm at his position.

“I know a lot of safeties aren’t able to cover as well as some guys can,” Haughton said. “I think that’s one of my strengths I can actually cover a slot or any receiver and take them out of the play. Whenever I’m not doing that, I can come down and make the hits and make the tackle and make big plays.”

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Sports, Pages 22 on 03/11/2014