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:
Hogs cooking with east Texas pair
Arkansas running backs coach Jeff Traylor throws a football during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Since arriving in Fayetteville, University of Arkansas associate head coach and running backs coach Jeff Traylor drastically has improved recruiting in east Texas.
The Razorbacks signed two prospects from east Texas in the 2019 class, and they have four commitments from the area for the 2020 class. Traylor also was the lead recruiter for four other Hogs on the roster.
Landon Jackson highlights
Clayton Smith highlights
Arkansas hosted two of the best east Texas prospects in the 2021 class for the Fall Kickoff Cookout on Friday. Defensive end Landon Jackson of Texarkana (Texas) Pleasant Grove and linebacker Clayton Smith of Texarkana (Texas) High School, made their way to Fayetteville along with about 25 other prospects for the cookout.
"It went really good," Jackson said. "I got to spend a lot to time with the coaches and just get to know them a little more. It was good to get to know some of the recruits."
Jackson, 6-6, 240 pounds, had more than 20 scholarship offers, but he narrowed his list to Arkansas, Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Washington on July 5.
Several UA commitments were on hand, including tight end Brandon Frazier, who urged him to become a Razorback.
"He talked to me about it," Jackson said. "He said basically, 'You can't win with no players.' He believes in the process and everything."
Jackson was accompanied by his mother, Katie, along with a younger brother, aunt and three cousins. Jackson is impressed with the coaches.
"You can tell they are trying their hardest, and they just need to get their recruits and the right guys here to win games," Jackson said.
He had 56 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 9 sacks before suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury late in his sophomore season. He was named the District 7-4A-II Defensive Newcomer of the Year after recording 98 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 23 quarterback hurries, 3 forced fumbles, an interception and 6 pass breakups as a freshman.
Jackson, who also visited Arkansas in March, has been friends with Smith since the second grade.
"It was great being able to go on a visit with Clayton because we have been pretty good friends for a long time, and I haven't been on one with him yet," said Jackson, whose father, Larry, lettered for the Texas A&M basketball team in 2000. "It's great seeing the people you grow up with make it as well."
He said he might attend Arkansas' game against Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, in the fall.
Smith, 6-4, 220 pounds, has 10 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Texas, TCU, LSU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ole Miss and others.
He said he spent a lot of time with Jackson and Traylor on Friday. He said the group was dominant while competing against others in games at the cookout.
"Everything we did, I was either with Landon or Coach Traylor, so pretty much everything was won by east Texas," Smith said. "That east Texas vibe runs strong down here."
He said it was special to share the day with Jackson.
"Well, you know that's been my dog since second grade, so us both blowing up the way we did is crazy," Smith said. "So it was just us doing what we do."
Smith, whose uncle is former Arkansas great and Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters, recorded 57 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries and a pass breakup as a sophomore.
He saw a lot of positives about the Hogs.
"Arkansas' facilities are top notch, the scenery is amazing, the coaching staff was very energetic and welcoming," Smith said.
Morris made sure to point out the rich tradition of successful Razorbacks from east Texas.
"Coach Morris touched on the history of Arkansas and east Texas players and their success, and said they take care of east Texas down here," Smith said.
Smith's first trip to Fayetteville won't be his last.
"I'm definitely impressed with them now, and I'm definitely going back," he said.
Email Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 07/28/2019
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