Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Class of 2021 educating through group chats
The University of Arkansas football commitments are bonding and developing camaraderie long before they arrive on campus, thanks to communicating via group chats.
The chats were started by safety pledge Jermaine Hamilton-Jordan a few days before the Hogs received the commitment of quarterback Lucas Coley on June 11.
“I think it was three or four days prior to, that’s when we started the group chat,” Hamilton-Jordan said.
The chats allow the future Hogs to learn about one another and communicate on daily basis while also inviting other recruits they feel like could also commit to be Razorbacks.
“All the guys that are committed are in the group chat,” said Hamilton-Jordan. “We have a couple of other guys who are very close. We just need to get them very comfortable.”
Hamilton-Jordan, 6-0, 203 pounds, of Kansas City Lincoln College Prep, chose Arkansas over scholarship offers from Kentucky, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State, Washington State, Tulsa, and others on May 3.
He and Coley have been the leaders of the group chats that are called 2021.
“We just kind of get every athlete that’s seriously considering Arkansas and see how they match up and bond with our players because at the end of the day coaches do dictate a large part of the game, but we have to be comfortable with each other and at the end of the day players make plays,” Coley said.
Coley, 6-2, 205 pounds, of San Antonio Cornerstone Christian, pledged to the Hogs over more than 30 other scholarship offers, including Virginia Tech, Louisville, Houston, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Washington State and South Florida.
“It’s just kind of good to kind of understand people’s personalities and traits,” said Coley of the chats. “What kind things people do for fun. It’s kind of helping us understand who we want to room with.”
Hamilton-Jordan said the chats are often unplanned and can happen on a whim.
“If someone feels like talking, they’ll text in the group chat,” Hamilton-Jordan said. “If someone feels like talking, they’ll just say what they have to say and everybody else communicates. We literally talk about any and everything that a high school or college player would talk about.”
Hamilton-Jordan is confident he can convince uncommitted prospects to be a Razorback.
“Literally one conversation with me, add him to the group chat,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a final wrap. We’re gonna get ’em on board.”
The chats are a good way to get to know future teammates, said Coley. Offensive line pledge Cole Carson works on a ranch that he and his grandfather own in east Texas.
“Like, Cole, he’s like a big country boy,” Coley said. “So he does like a lot of country workouts like breaking concrete with like a hammer instead of lifting a lot of weights. Jermaine is a clown. He’s super funny. He’s like the class clown of the group.”
Coley wants members of the 2021 class who want to build a powerhouse instead of joining one already established.
“That’s the narrative I’ve been pushing because it doesn’t take too much talent or too much hard work to go to LSU and be good,” Coley said. “But it means a hell of lot more when you put the sacrifice in from day one since you commit to a losing team and go in there and turn it around and build something special with your name stamped on it instead of somebody else.”
“First thing we told everybody when they joined, it’s a culture we’re building. It’s a winning culture of hard work. Don’t come to Arkansas if your goal is not to be the best football player to ever touch the field. Basically, if you don’t want to be great, Arkansas isn’t the school for you.”
Hamilton-Jordan, Coley and other commitments are active on Twitter in urging prospects to consider the Hogs. Coley said the Razorbacks fans interacting with prospects on Twitter play a big role in the recruiting process.
“Fans believe it or not have a huge, huge impact on recruits,” Coley said. “[Recruits] go click their offer post and if they see a hundred woo pig sooie emojis down there, they’re going to think of Arkansas regardless just because of that. When you’re on the field and do good you want fans that have your back. When you’re on the field and you have a bad day, you want fans that kind of have your back. I feel like the more fans that interact with any player, helps us tremendously.”
Hog fans are known to make edits of prospects and Coley said that’s much appreciated by him and the other recruits.
“The edits they make for us they don’t go unnoticed,” Coley said. “We send them in a group chat and talk about them as well.”
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