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:
Prior relationships put Ball in Arkansas' court
Jimmy Smith, an assistant coach with the University of Arkansas football team, speaks with members of the media Thursday, February 6, 2020, inside the Fred W. Smith Football Center on the campus in Fayetteville. Ten football assistants participated in the interview process. Check out nwaonline.com/200207Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.
Prior relationships with University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman and running backs coach Jimmy Smith have defensive lineman Cameron Ball planning to visit the Hogs.
He calls the Razorbacks one of his top priorities.
Cameron Ball highlights
"Just because of the coaching staff and the environment," Ball said. "When Coach Pittman was at Georgia, he was recruiting me. Now that he's the head coach at Arkansas, he has taken his interest in me with him. That's cool."
Ball, 6-5, 295 pounds, of East Point (Ga.) Tri-Cities has 24 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Mississippi State and others.
He and Pittman have been talking about him taking an unofficial visit to Fayetteville.
"He wants to get me up for a visit," Ball said. "I'm planning to take a visit soon, and if I feel like that's a place I want to spend one of my officials on, then I'll make it happen."
Smith recruited Ball while at Georgia State before joining the Arkansas staff.
"He was recruiting me at Georgia State. He went on to bigger and better at Arkansas, and he took me with him, too," Ball said. "We have a nice relaltionship. He knows what it's like to come where I come from. He totally understands almost everything about me."
Ball played on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs. A starter on varsity since the ninth grade, he recorded 57 tackles, 6 sacks, 8 quarterback hurries, 3 forced fumbles and a recorded fumble as a junior while also having 28 pancake blocks on the offensive line.
In addition to Arkansas, Ball wants to visit ACC and other SEC schools that are showing interest in him.
When he narrows his list of schools, he's looking at life after football.
"I look at the academic program for sure," Ball said. "That has to be number one because there's more than just football when it comes to recruiting."
Ball's focus on academics isn't lip service. He's considering becoming a teacher for good reason.
"My whole family are teachers," Ball said. "My dad is a retired coach. He coached for 30 years, and when I graduate he's going to retire from teaching. My mom is a teacher at an elementary school, and my sister is a teacher. My grandparents, they retired from teaching. My aunt retired from teaching. My cousin is still teaching."
He reports running 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his school while also having a 340-pound bench press. Ball, who was team captain as a sophmore and junior, is torn on when he'll make his college decision.
"There's part of me that wants to sign on signing day, and there's a part of me that wants to commit before the season starts so I don't have anything to worry about and I can just play football," he said.
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]
Sports on 03/03/2020
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