Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Junior quarterback catching the eye of Arkansas
Coach Chad Morris and his staff will sign their first Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting class Wednesday, but they're also looking ahead to the 2019 and 2020 classes.
The Razorbacks made a statement to highly regarded junior quarterback KJ Jefferson by sending the entire offensive staff to his school recently.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Joe Craddock, running backs coach Jeff Traylor, offensive line coach Dustin Fry, tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. and receivers coach Justin Stepp visited North Panola High School in Sardis, Miss., on Thursday.
North Panola Coach Carl Diffee said Jefferson was glad to see the staff make the the trip.
"He was excited that they were showing that kind of commitment to him, that they would take the time out of their travel plans to drop in and let their presences be known," Diffee said. "Not many people know where Sardis, Mississippi is."
Jefferson, 6-3, 210 pounds, received a scholarship offer from the Hogs on Jan. 21. He has since added offers from Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Indiana and Arkansas State to go along with others. Diffee is impressed with the Hogs staff.
"Those guys are really good guys," Diffee said. "I think KJ thinks a lot of them. They were his first SEC offer, and they've formed a really good relationship with him in a very short period of time. Those guys do it right."
Diffee finds Craddock, who's leading the recruiting efforts for Jefferson, and the other Razorbacks coaches to be down-to-earth.
"They're really hospitable, really easy to talk to," Diffee said. "They're very real and natural They're not fake in any way."
The early offer from the Razorbacks to Jefferson, who plays basketball and runs track, might prove to be beneficial down the road for the Razorbacks.
"It was very important to him," Diffee said. "We've had two kids that have gone to Ole Miss and played from here that I've coached and both of those kids' offers were from Ole Miss. KJ had camped with Ole Miss a few times and had not received an offer, and for those guys to come in really based off of film and offer him is kind of a validation that he's that kind of a football player."
Jefferson completed 150 of 236 passes for 3,028 yards, 36 touchdowns while throwing 3 interceptions as a junior. He also rushed 139 times for 1,325 yards, including 6 100-yard games and 8 touchdowns while leading the Cougars to a 13-1 record and the Class 3A semifinals.
"He's got a huge arm," Diffee said. "He has to take a lot off of it to throw to our guys. He won't have to do that at the next level and he'll be able to make throws into tight windows and he'll be able to throw those routes that require great arm strength. He's a leader, he comes from a great family."
Diffee said Jefferson's versatility is one of his best assets.
"He could play in a system where he's a dual-threat guy where he could run it and throw it," Diffee said. "He's also disciplined and fundamentally sound where he can be a drop-back passer in the right kind of offense. He's very versatile and he's a humble kid.
Jefferson plans to visit Fayetteville to check out the Hogs in the spring.
"I think we're going to wait until spring practice starts which is like March 3rd and we'll come up during our spring break which is March 12th through the 16th," Diffee said.
E-mail Richard Davenport at email@example.com
Sports on 02/06/2018
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