Former OU linebacker Draper eager to get to Arkansas

Oklahoma linebacker Levi Draper is shown prior to a game against Kansas on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan.

— Former Oklahoma linebacker Levi Draper is looking forward to his arrival at Arkansas, where he will have two years to make an impact for the Razorbacks and new coach Sam Pittman.

Draper (6-1, 234), rated as a four-star prospect and the fifth-best inside linebacker prospect in 247Sports' composite 2017 recruiting rankings, is scheduled to graduate in May and get to Fayetteville as soon as the coronavirus pandemic allows for that to happen.

“Coach Pittman had recruited me both when he was at Arkansas and when he went to Georgia as well,” Draper said Wednesday. “So I knew Coach Pittman and had a good relationship with him and then I met the rest of the staff, including (Razorbacks linebacker) Coach (Rion) Rhoades, and I just loved it up there. It just felt like family and I really like the situation.

“Once I found out that I had the opportunity to be a part of it, I jumped all over it.”

The former US Army All-American looks forward to being coached by Rhoades.

“I have been staying in touch with him,” Draper said. “I love Coach Rhoades. It hasn’t been a whole lot of time. Not too long after I came on the visit, this (coronavirus) stuff happened and I haven’t got to come down there because of that. But I actually talked to him a couple of days ago and just love him and I am excited to play for him.”

Draper was injured and redshirted his freshman season at Oklahoma and has played in all 28 of the Sooners’ games the past two seasons. Most of those snaps came on special teams.

He believes he is joining an Arkansas program that is headed in the right position and gives him a chance for immediate playing time.

“That is definitely part of it, but also I think with the people that Arkansas has now that this thing is headed in the right direction,” Draper said. “I didn’t get a chance to get around a whole lot of guys on the team, but I had a good time down there during my (official) visit and I just really felt like I have made a great decision for my future.

“The coaches, the facilities, the direction they are heading, I just feel like it is a perfect fit.”

Draper believes he brings an experienced linebacker who knows the game to Arkansas.

“I would say that my overall understanding of the game is definitely a strength of mine. I am real coachable and have speed and quickness,” Draper said. “So I feel like from that aspect, getting in there and learning a new defense, I don’t think that will be too big of a deal.

“Right now I would say the things I am continuing to work on are my speed, quickness and strength, because you can never be too strong or too fast.”

Draper initially chose Oklahoma over Clemson, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Arkansas and others after amassing 143 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions as a senior at Collinsville, Okla.

“Right now I am finishing up the semester at Oklahoma and doing what I have got to take care of to graduate in May,” Draper said. “I am just kind of working out, trying to put myself in the best position to come in and help all I can.”

It has been a change for Draper in terms of attending school and working out since the virus came along.

“It is a big change going from being busy all day long and having your routine shook up, but I had to find a way to stay productive and definitely stay in shape,” Draper said. “I am not trying to maintain during this, I am trying to get better.

“I have found a place that I can work out and right now that has basically been my day. During the early part of the day, I am inside doing my homework and stuff and then I will get up to the gym in the evening and get my work in. I would say that it is a change routine-wise, but the objective has stayed the same.”