Richard Davenport has been a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2007. He also hosts Recruiting Thursday each Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. statewide.
Former basketball player now a top FB prospect
Jalen Merrick has become one of the more highly recruited offensive line prospects in the nation with only two seasons under his belt.
Offensive lineman Jalen Merrick is one of the more unusual prospects in the 2015 class. He received his first scholarship offer from Florida Atlantic before playing in a game.
“They were actually coming for one of our other players D’cota Dixon, who signed with Wisconsin in February,” said Merrick, who’s drawing interest from Arkansas. “He saw my footwork and he was really impressed. Then my coach told him I hadn’t played a game yet and he was shocked by how athletic I was.”
Merrick, 6-5, 310 pounds, 5.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. now has more than 20 offers from schools like Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Michigan State. Video highlights CLICK HERE
He’s been communicating with Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman and linebackers coach Randy Shannon and graduate assistant Eric Mateo.
Merrick played basketball until giving the gridiron a try last fall.
“I played a little bit of forward and center,” Merrick said. “I was mostly a defensive presence.”
Pittman will visit his school on Tuesday and an offer from the Hogs could come shortly afterward.
His school didn’t keep count of pancake blocks, but Merrick said he had a lot. Opponents often comment on his play.
“Where did you come from,” Merrick said laughing. “Sometimes I come out of nowhere because I’ll be lost or something and I’ll just find the next person to hit.”
He’s glad he picked up the sport.
“It’s really fun playing football,” said Merrick, whose father played right field for the Miami Hurricanes baseball team. “I decided I might as well learn now and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far.”
Merrick, who has a 405 pound bench press and a 31-inch vertical, said a visit to Arkansas could happen.
“It’s very possible because my dad and I are suppose to be going on a road trip I believe after our spring football is over,” said Merrick, who has 3.8 grade point average and is leaning towards studying business or sports management. “We have a three week period before summer workouts start. We planned on hit up a lot of the schools that have offered or basically on the verge to.”