BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Former Arkansas running back Darren McFadden's impact on the the field as a Razorback goes without saying. He was a two-time Doak Walker winner and the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2006 and 2007.
His impact also has been a plus for the Razorbacks in recruiting. Defensive end Hunter Echols, a UCLA commitment, became a fan of McFadden and the Hogs at 6 years old, and because of that he is looking to make an official visit to Fayetteville.
"I just want to start something new, and my favorite running back came from Arkansas," Echols said. "I've been a fan of Arkansas since I was little. I don't have a favorite college team. I just love college football, and I grew up watching him play sometimes, and McFadden made me want to go there."
Echols, 6-4, 232 pounds, of Los Angeles Cathedral, has scholarship offers from UCLA, Arkansas, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Southern Cal and Washington, among others. He was one of the standouts at The Opening at Nike headquarters last weekend.
He and Razorbacks defensive line coach Rory Segrest are talking.
"I'm going to try and take an official visit because my parents are burnt out on taking unofficials," Echols said.
Because of his fondness for McFadden, Echols wore the same number of the Arkansas star during pee-wee football.
"I use to play running back, so I use to wear No. 5 because of him, and I tried to be like him," Echols said. "I wanted to wear No. 5 because he was No. 5."
ESPN rates him the No. 9 defensive end and No. 83 overall prospect. Echols recorded 79 tackles, 27 for loss, 17 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, recovering 2 -- with 1 of those resulting in a touchdown -- as a junior.
The Hogs are expected to lose five defensive linemen after the 2016 season. Segrest has reminded him of the number.
"He said they have a lot of guys leaving, so I could come in and try and be an early impact player," Echols said.
Echols plans to graduate in December and enroll at his new school in January.
"I hopefully will be an early enrollee and wherever I go, I'll be beefing up and getting faster, bigger and faster, so I'll be able to play," he said.
Echols has a 3.14 grade-point average and plans to major in communications and minor in business. He said the allure of the SEC is strong.
"SEC is live fans, crowds, football," Echols said. "Everybody loves football. Every SEC team, the fans go crazy."
Family high on Arkansas
If outside linebacker Addison Gumbs doesn't attend Arkansas, it won't be because his parents, Desmond and Mariama Gumbs, disapprove.
Gumbs of Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep and his parents are still raving about their visit in early April to Fayetteville.
"I think the University of Arkansas is [the] best kept national secret just in terms of academics and football," Mariama Gumbs said.
Her husband was won over by the scenery and people of Arkansas.
"Arkansas is such a beautiful state, and Fayetteville is a very nice town," Desmond Gumbs said. "My family really enjoyed it. The coaching staff was real personable. It was like a really down-home feeling for us.
"It's just the people there in Fayetteville were very welcoming to us and our family. Even the hotel where we stayed was great."
Gumbs, 6-4, 220, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has offers from more than 20 schools, including Arkansas, Oregon, Southern Cal, Mississippi, Washington, Arizona State, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Oklahoma, among others.
"I just had such a great impression of the University of Arkansas," Mariama Gumbs said. "Just the whole experience, I've never been there, and I just loved the staff. I loved the facilities."
ESPN rates Gumbs the No. 16 outside linebacker and the No. 243 overall prospect. He and his parents are planning to make an official visit to Arkansas this fall for a game and the Alabama contest is a possibility.
"Arkansas is so beautiful, I had no idea," Mariama Gumbs said. "I tell people all the time, 'Have you guys checked out the University of Arkansas? It's like the best.' "
Uekman tournament starts
The fifth annual Garrett Uekman 7-on-7 tournament will begin at 3 p.m. today at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock and will feature several top prospects.
Some of the 10 teams participating include Little Rock Catholic, Ashdown, Pulaski Robinson, Jonesboro, Little Rock Central and Sylvan Hills.
Ashdown safety Montaric Brown, a major target of Arkansas, will take part along with Razorbacks receiver commitment Koilan Jackson and junior athletes Nathan Page and Hunter Swoboda, all of Pulaski Robinson, as well as Ashdown junior cornerback LaDarius Bishop, who has scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Baylor and Louisiana-Monroe.
Ashdown junior quarterback Jaden Hill, who has a baseball scholarship from Arkansas, also will be on hand.
Uekman starred at Little Rock Catholic before signing with Arkansas in 2010. He died from an enlarged heart on Nov. 20, 2011. The Uekman Foundation, which hosts the event, was formed to raise money for heart disease research and education and to fund scholarships for deserving athletes.
Email Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 07/15/2016