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:
Hard-hitting safety McGruder looking for a spot
Arkansas was the first school to offer Houston safety Kenneth McGruder.
The question of whether the first school that extends a scholarship offer to a prospect has an advantage in the recruiting process is often argued on message boards.
Highly regarded safety Kenneth McGruder of Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor said receiving his first offer from Arkansas is a plus for the school.
“I really think highly of them since they saw something in me that nobody else really saw,” McGruder said. “It really felt great they were my first offer.”
McGruder, 6-2, 205 pounds, 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has 11 other scholarship offers from schools that include LSU, Utah, Oregon State, California and others.
“I’m just weighing my options right now,” McGruder said. “Arkansas is definitely on my radar for what I’m looking for. Definitely trying to get a visit in, most likely during the summer or in the season.”
Arkansas has had its fair share of physical and hard-hitting safeties like Steve Atwater, Ken Hamlin and Kenoy Kennedy. McGruder is cut from the same mold.
“I feel like if you play safety, you got to be able to hit like a linebacker and cover like a corner,” McGruder said. “I just love coming down and hitting somebody. There’s nothing better than hitting somebody.”
Conference affiliation is also plus for the Hogs.
“Arkansas is in the SEC,” he said. “SEC is tops for me. I definitely want to go to the SEC.”
McGruder said his lead recruiter at Arkansas, running backs coach Joel Thomas, visited his school Tuesday.
“He seems real cool,” McGruder said. “Sounds like they like safeties that can hit, and that’s what I can do.”
McGruder, who has a 3.1 grade-point average, said he loves animals and that he is looking at being a veterinarian.
“I love horses,” said McGruder, who has a pit bull. “A lot of my family have horses.”
Playing time, whether it’s safety or on special teams, is important to McGruder.
“I’m just looking for a school that’s going to give me an opportunity as a freshman, just an opportunity to get on the field,” McGruder said. “It can be special teams, kickoff. It’s doesn’t matter. I just want to get on the field and play.
“I don’t want to be coming to a school and be like in a box. I want to have the opportunity to get on the field, to get somebody’s spot.”
RUNNING BACK OPEN
Former Texas A&M running back commitment Rodney Anderson of Katy, Texas, is interested in Arkansas after talking to Razorbacks running backs coach Joel Thomas.
Anderson, 6-1, 205 pounds, 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has scholarship offers from several schools, including Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Auburn and Michigan State.
He announced April 23 that he was reopening his recruitment but is unlikely to visit any schools in the near future.
“We’re in spring ball right now,” Anderson said. “ It’s pretty much my No. 1 priority,”
Anderson, who is rated the No. 263 prospect in the nation by ESPN, rushed for 1,967 yards and 34 touchdowns and helped lead Katy to the 5A Division II state championship game last season.
He said he decided to reopen his recruitment to make sure that he makes the right decision.
“It’s a place that I’m going to spend the next four years of my life,” Anderson said. “I just wanted to make sure I was going to the right place, just decided open it back up to just to see.”
Anderson said he has talked with Thomas a couple of times.
“He said he feels like it’s a good fit because they run the ball and they’re a downhill team,” Anderson said. “I agree with him, and I like the running backs coach.”
Anderson has a 3.4 grade point average and is considering majoring in business or criminal justice. It is uncertain when he might visit schools.
“I don’t really know,” Anderson said. “Probably sometime during the summer, I’ll start getting out and see schools.”
STEWART ON FAST TRACK
Highland receiver Deon Stewart, who orally committed to Arkansas last Saturday, recorded a personal best of 10.91 seconds in the 100 meters Thursday in a district meet at Pocahontas.
His previous best time in the 100 was 11.12 seconds.
Stewart, 6-1, 163 pounds, 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash, also has scholarship offers from Mississippi, Louisville, Tulsa, Southern Miss and Arkansas State.
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports, Pages 25 on 05/02/2014