Morris hits recruiting trail right away

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, left, waves to reporters after he landed at Drake Field in Fayetteville on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Morris was hired as the Razorbacks' 33rd football coach earlier in the day.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, left, waves to reporters after he landed at Drake Field in Fayetteville on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Morris was hired as the Razorbacks' 33rd football coach earlier in the day.

— Arkansas football coach Chad Morris made it clear on his first day on the job that he plans to get in front of as many prospects as he can before the first-ever high school early signing period of Dec. 20-22.

He and his staff reached out to Razorback commits, some uncommitted Arkansas targets and some prospects committed to other schools Wednesday.

“Time is off the essence right now,” Morris told Razorback Sports Network announcer Brett Dolan Wednesday afternoon in an interview aboard a flight headed from Dallas to Fayetteville. “We are constantly on the move. We have got to be able to get out there right now and make a difference and get out there recruiting, especially with the signing day on the 20th.

“We have got to be able to build that quick relationship and let them know they can come in and make an impact right now.”

His first two reported recruiting offers were to four-star Schertz (Clemens), Texas, wide receiver Tommy Bush (6-5, 190 pounds, 4.47) and Oklahoma four-star defensive back commit Jaqualyn Crawford (5-10, 163) of Rockdale, Texas. Bush is rated the ninth-best receiver in the country by ESPN.

Morris was a highly successful Texas high school football coach with three state championships beefore making the move to Tulsa as an offensive coordinator in 2010. He also coordinated the Clemson offense four seasons before taking the SMU job.

Those roots should help the Razorbacks land more Texas recruits than former coach Bret Bielema, who only signed 15 prospects from the Lone Star State in five years.

“That helps big-time obviously being in this state for as long as I have,” Morris said. “But I’ve got a lot of friends and a lot of high school buddies in the state of Arkansas and we have got to build a fence around the state of Arkansas and put that blueprint and that footprint into the state of Texas. East Texas is going to be very vital, the city of Dallas, the city of Fort Worth, the Metroplex area.

“So we are going to recruit, we are going to recruit all over, but our footprint is going to be the state of Arkansas into Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.”

Morris had a recruiting room at his house in Highland Park, Texas. He brought SMU recruits over on official visits and plans to have one in Fayetteville.

“It goes back so much to the family aspect of who we are,” Morris said. “I want to be able to bring a young man into our house and his family over and to set down and let them see who we are.

“To go in and be able to see the number of players we have recruited that have impacted our lives as much as we have impact their lives and just to be real and who we are.

“First and foremost, football is just what I do, it’s not who we are,” Morris said. “We are husbands, we are fathers, we are sons and we have an opportunity to impact lives.”

Morris said his recruiting pitch will be a multi-dimensional one.

“Number one, if you come to play for us, you are going to graduate. You are going to grow yourself socially in a community that is hungry for success on the football field, hungry for producing great leaders,” Morris said. “You are going to have an opportunity to grow yourself as a football player in how we develop our football players.

“And, last and foremost, you are going to win a championship. We firmly believe we want guys who want to win championships, we want guys who want to play in the NFL and we can provide all of that.

“We want you to come in and make an im[act right now and let’s do this together.”

Morris worked under Clemson coach Dabo Swinney for four seasons.

“Coach Swinney has been a very instrumental part of my development and his vision and blueprint to win a national championship is something we brought right here to SMU and we are going to take the same vision and the same blueprint to The Hill (Fayetteville),” Morris said.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunities ahead - and I have said it before - but seven years ago, the similarities of where Arkansas is right now and where Clemson was is very similar. There is a lot of potential and we are really excited about it.”

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