The recruiting guy:

Oklahoma tight end is a gem despite 3-star rating

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Austin Cantrell
Austin Cantrell

Tight end Austin Cantrell of Roland, Okla., is a consensus 3-star prospect by national recruiting services, but that ranking might have more to do with Cantrell not attending any combines or camps with regional or national writers in attendance than it is a reflection of his ability and potential..

Cantrell, 6-3 1/2, 245, 4.58 seconds in the 40 yard dash, is one of the nation's more physically gifted athletes at tight end.

He is big, fast and strong.

Cantrell orally committed to the Hogs March 21 when Arkansas was the only school to extend a scholarship offer. Oklahoma offered about a month later.

Cantrell recorded a electronic time of 11.2 seconds in the 100 meters in the spring and also anchored his school's 4x100 relay.

His quickness off the line and speed were in evidence during Arkansas' camp in June. It's the kind of athleticism that will likely allow Cantrell to see immediate playing time and ability to stretch the field at Arkansas as a freshman.

The lack of respect from recruiting services doesn't faze Cantrell.

"None of that honestly really matters to me, it doesn't ," said Cantrell, who threw the shot put 58 feet 7 inches. "You really can't go off of ratings. In time everything tells itself. I'm just going to show everybody that I'm a little underrated."

Cantrell played tight end and tailback as a junior and recorded 9 receptions for 268 yards, an average of 29.7 yards per catch, and 2 touchdowns while rushing 41 times for 334 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also played quarterback in the Wildcat formation in goal-line situations.

Defensively, he had 67 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and about 10 sacks at defensive end.

"I can pretty much do it all,"Cantrell said. "Whatever they need me to do, I can do and I just try to do it the best I can."

Cantrell said he never considered flipping his commitment when the Sooners extended an offer.

"I feel at home," Cantrell said of Arkansas.

His relationship with tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., his lead recruiter, and Coach Bret Bielema, has been key.

"All the coaches, we get along really well," Cantrell said. "I already feel like I've known them for a while. They use their tight ends a lot and that's a big thing for me and it's so close to home too."

GETTING THE MESSAGE

Monday was the first day college coaches could call senior prospects and send direct message to juniors on Twitter or Facebook.

Coach Bret Bielema and his staff started contacting prospects at 12:01 a.m. and highly regarded Hope defensive end McTelvin Agim was one of those targeted.

Bielema was the first college coach to direct message Agim on Twitter while tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. and defensive line coach Rory Segrest were the second and third coaches.

"It just showed where I stood with them and that really had a big impact on me," said Agim, who also talked to Bielema on the phone around noon on Monday. "A real big impact."

Agim, 6-3, 258, 4.68, has 10 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Stanford, Ole Miss, Clemson, Oklahoma and others. The Razorbacks were the first school to show interest and offer him.

Agim heard from Mississippi State about an hour after Arkansas. Stanford, Ole Miss, Baylor and Auburn also messaged him.

The attention from the coaches along with the recent commitment of highly recruited North Little Rock receiver K.J. Hill has Agim excited about the Hogs.

"He's a playmaker," Agim said of Hill. "I would love to play with him/ I think they're on the verge of getting Will Gragg."

CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who has been covering the national sense for 35 years, rates Agim a 4-star plus prospect.

"He comes out of his stance like a rocket," said Lemming, who lists Agim on his junior Al-American team. "He has to be double teamed at all times and has proven to be a holy terror for a quarterback."

PETTWAY DECOMMITS

Nashville receiver La'Michael Pettway said Monday he's no longer committed to Ole Miss and is planning to officially visit Arkansas.

"Honestly, I didn't decommit to commit to anybody else right off the bat," Pettway said. "I wanted to be sure about my commitment because I've still been talking to Arkansas. Ole Miss and Arkansas, they're my top two schools."

Pettway, 6-3, 200, 4.50, has 14 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Alabama, Louisville, Ole Miss, Arkansas State, Nebraska, Southern Miss and others. He also plans to officially visit the Rebels.

He said K.J. Hill's commitments to the Hogs and communication with other Razorbacks commitments like quarterback Ty Storey of Charleston helped his decision to reopen his recruiting.

"K.J. committing, it did kind of have an impact," Pettway said. "Because all of them were on me about staying in state, because they felt like us staying in state could be something special."

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports on 09/02/2014

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