UA makes grade with haul heavy on 4-star recruits

— Arkansas’ haul of 30 athletes Wednesday on the first day of the national signing period ranks as one of the better classes in the nation, according to multiple national recruiting services.

Coach Bobby Petrino’s fourth class at Arkansas was ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation by, while ranked it No. 24, rated it No. 18 and at No. 21.

“It’s an outstanding class,” said CBS College Sports national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “One of their better ones in the last several years.”

Lemming gave 11 of the UA signees ratings of four stars or better, and seven of them are on the offensive side.

That group is led by Springdale Har-Ber offensive tackle Brey Cook, 6-7, 314 pounds, 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Cook is the lone five-star recruit in Arkansas’ class.

“I have him as a first-team All-American in my magazine,” Lemming said of Cook, who already has enrolled at Arkansas and will participate in spring practice. “There’s five offensive linemen, and he’s one of them. He has a great frame, and he doesn’t look fat at 314 pounds.”

Lemming is also high on Fayetteville quarterback Brandon Allen, 6-2, 210, 4.6, and Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith receiver Quinta Funderburk, 6-4, 205, 4.5. Both are rated as four-star-plus recruits.

“He’s a freak of nature,” said Lemming of Funderburk, who also enrolled at Arkansas in January. “He is big, tall, athletic with long arms and strong hands and very good speed.

“He’s definitely the best player in the Tidewater area, and that’s one of the best areas in the country for athletes.”

Lemming said he believes Allen, the son of Arkansas assistant coach Bobby Allen, has the makings of a big-time quarterback.

“He’s ahead of the curve already,” Lemming said. “He has a great arm and a good head on his shoulders, and hedoesn’t make mistakes.”

Running back Kody Walker, 6-2, 230, 4.7, of Jefferson City, Mo.; offensive lineman Marcus Danenhauer, 6-5, 315, 5.4, of Bentonville; tight end Demetrius Dean, 6-2, 250, 4.7, of Fayetteville and receiver Keante Minor, 6-2, 194, 4.45, of East St. Louis, Ill., are also rated as four-star recruits by Lemming.

Defensively, Lemming said he believes the Hogs improved the secondary by bringing in four-star cornerback Tevin Mitchel, 6-0, 170, 4.40 of Mansfield (Texas) Legacy.

“He’s an outstanding cover corner,” Lemming said. “He’s a pass defender supreme. He’s one of the more underrated players in theMetroplex area. He can fly, and that’s what you need as a cover corner.”

The Hogs plan to start off Gilbert (Ariz.) Higley athlete Kelvin Fisher, 5-11, 185, 4.5, at cornerback but could move him to offense. Lemming rates Fisher and London Ontario St. Thomas Aquinas safety Brett Weir, 6-4 1/2, 217, 4.40, as four-star prospects.

“I thought he was one of the best players in Arizona,” Lemming said of Fisher. “He can run, he’s athletic. He has real good football speed.”

Lemming, who travels the country about five months a year watching prospects, met Weir last year during one of his trips.

“He’s a good athlete, a linebacker type guy,” Lemmingsaid. “He runs exceptionally well. “

Arkansas also held off a late surge from Miami to sign highly regarded defensive lineman Lonnie Gosha, 6-3, 271, 4.89, of Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County. Lemming lists Gosha as four-star prospect .

“I was very impressed with him when I saw him last year,” Lemming said. “He’s not real tall, but he’s strong and gets good leverage.”

Sports, Pages 19 on 02/03/2011