Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
THE RECRUITING GUY:
Former TCU commitment eyes Arkansas, others
Clay Jennings was hired as Arkansas' defensive backs coach after spending six seasons at TCU.
Cornerback PJ Mbanasor committed to TCU on Jan. 26 when Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings was the Horn Frogs’ cornerbacks coach. He didn’t expect to hear from Jennings after joining the staff at Arkansas.
That changed when Mbanasor reopened his recruiting on March 12 and two days later the Hogs extended a scholarship offer.
“His initial plans wasn’t to recruit me as he wanted to pay respect to TCU,” Mbanasor said. “But once I decided I wanted to open up my recruiting process just to find the best opportunity for me, he went ahead and told me how he did agree with TCU that he wouldn’t recruit me unless something like me decommitting happened. So he went ahead and extended an offer.”
Mbanasor, 6-2, 185 pounds, 4.47 seconds in the 40 yard dash, of Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson is now up to 13 scholarship offers from other schools like Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Wisconsin. Mbanasor said he understood why Jennings made the move to Fayetteville.
“He left TCU to better his lifestyle, which is family, financial standards and stuff like that,” Mbanasor said.
He welcomed the offer from the Hogs.
“I wouldn’t say I saw the offer coming, but I was curious to see if I would get one knowing coach Jennings and how he operates,” said Mbanasor, who has a 37-inch vertical leap. “It was good feeling once I got it.”
Mbanasor has visited Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and is looking to make trips to Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Arkansas.
“I’m going to make a trip to visit during the summertime,” Mbanasor said of the Razorbacks.
He said he’ll be keeping track how schools he’s considering compete during the season along with several other things.
“I’m definitely going to be looking at the corners of each team that’s offered me and how they been developed by the coaching staff and seeing how I compare against them,” Mbanasor said. “Academics of course.My parents are both big on academics.”
Arkansas kicked off spring practice on Sunday and one observer, tight end Austin Cantrell of Roland, Okla .,left Fayetteville with a scholarship offer from the Hogs after talking to Coach Bret Bielema.
“I was thinking about verbally committing right there,”Cantrell said. “I was pretty excited. I’m going to wait and play things out and see how things go.”
Cantrell, 6-3 1/2, 249, 4.58 in the 40, caught 9 passes for 268 yards, an average of 29.7 yards per catch. and 2 touchdowns as a junior. He also rushed 41 times for 334 yards and 9 touchdowns. The offer from the Hogs is his first from a Division I program, but he is also drawing interest from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Memphis.
Bielema told him of the offer by placing a dollar amount on the worth of a four-year scholarship.
“He said, you know what, today you’re worth $160,000,” Cantrell said. “I’m offering you right now. It was a pretty exciting moment for me.”
Cantrell, who received an offer from Central Oklahoma on Friday, has grown to respect Bielema after several conversations.
“I really do like coach Bielema,” Cantrell said. “He’s got to be my favorite head coach so far. He’s the one that I’ve talked to the most. He’s really down to earth, we get along real well.”
One of the state’s top prospects, receiver La’Michael Pettway, is expected to visit the Hogs during Thursday’s practice.
Pettway, 6-3, 195, 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Nashville, has scholarship offers from Alabama, Arkansas State, Louisville, Ole Miss, Nebraska and Southern Miss while drawing interest from Arkansas, LSU, Florida State, Texas Tech and others. He plans to visit LSU on Saturday.
He caught 54 passes for 1,054 yards and 17 touchdowns during a junior season that saw him play quarterback for the first three games. He completed 33 of 56 passes for 342 yards, 5 touchdowns and rushed 47 times for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns.
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports, Pages 19 on 03/18/2014