The Recruiting Guy:

New recruiting coordinator tweaking, organizing

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE -- E.K. Franks has been a busy man since replacing Chris Hauser as Arkansas football's Director of Recruiting.

When Franks started on April 9 he was faced with organizing the visits of junior and sophomore prospects on two separate dates while helping plan visits for more than 50 recruits for the April 19 spring game.

Also on Franks' to-do list has been adapting to a new computer software system and tweaking recruiting territories of the revamped coaching staff.

A third of Arkansas' nine assistant coaches -- defensive coordinator Robb Smith, defensive backs coach Clay Jennings and defensive line and specialists coach Rory Segrest -- are new to the program.

Franks is precise when describing the areas for which each coach is responsible.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney will recruit Missouri, which includes the metro areas of St. Louis and Kansas City, while also scouting quarterbacks across the nation.

"He's going around seeing some 2016 quarterbacks in different areas and if he needs to see an offensive player, he'll see him," Franks said.

The Hogs will have three coaches recruiting Georgia, including Smith.

"We gave him a small pocket of schools in Atlanta and he has all of the west side of Florida," said Franks, who came to Arkansas from Southeastern Louisiana.

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman has Oklahoma and Kansas, including the junior colleges in the Jayhawk state.

"The beautiful thing about Sam, he can recruit O-linemen from anywhere," Franks said. "He'll go see O-linemen around the country. With his reputation, a lot of linemen will come play for him. So he'll get linemen outside our recruiting areas."

Senior associate head coach Randy Shannon (linebackers) will continue to recruit south Florida up to the central part of the state along with parts of Atlanta and south Georgia. He'll likely venture out to other parts of the nation.

"He has so many former players and so many connections around the country," Franks said.

Segrest is assigned east Texas and Atlanta along with an area he recruited while at Samford.

"He'll spot recruit Alabama, because he's from that area," Franks said.

Bielema has stated the importance of recruiting Texas and the hiring of Jennings is expected to help in that state.

"Clay has parts of Dallas, mainly below I-20 and has central Texas all the way to north of I-10 of Houston, Franks said. "He's kind of butting up next to Rory in east Texas."

Receivers coach Michael Smith, who is originally from Louisiana, will continue to recruit the areas he was assigned last year.

"He has inside the loop down to I-20 in the Dallas area and then some east Dallas, Mesquite ... working out that way," Franks said. "And of course Louisiana."

Running backs coach Joel Thomas recruited the Dallas area some while at Washington and more so when at Purdue.

"He has outside the loop north in Dallas and he has south Houston below I-10," Franks said.

Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., recruited east Texas along with Arkansas last year, but he's focusing his efforts in Arkansas because of the amount of in-state talent in the 2015 and 2016 classes.

"Especially because Arkansas is our bread and butter," Franks said. "With the way the state is the next two years, we need him to just focus on the state. He's awesome, he likes to work, he likes to recruit and he knows everybody."

Franks said he believes the majority of the Hogs' class can come from from Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas while venturing out to other recruiting areas for the remainder of the class.

"We always talk about Ark-La-Tex, Ark-La-Tex," Franks said. "If you look at some of the top 10 teams on a constant basis and you take an eight-hour radius around their schools, that's where most of their players are from."

Franks said the aforementioned software upgrade should be up and running in a few weeks.

"The biggest thing we wanted to bring was technology and streamlining it for the coaches to make it easier for the coaches," he said. "How can we make them more efficient on the road and making the whole recruiting process more efficient?"

One of the priorities is organizing the approximately 34,000 prospects in the data base from the 2013 through 2018 classes.

Fans and recruits raved about thisisarkansasfootball.com, which gave insight about the coaches, facilities and the direction of the program. The Razorbacks will bring a similar version back online in the fall.

"It will be revamped, but it will just be in a different location and a different group building it," Franks said. "We want somewhere a kid can go and take a virtual tour of the athletic facilities and maybe doing a personalization of a coach talking about his bio and talk about what type of athletes they like and things they like at their position."

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 05/11/2014

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