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:
Proactive two-sport athlete attracts UA's attention
Two-sport standout Stone Blanton hasn't let the NCAA dead period stop him from being proactive in getting his name out to college football coaches.
Blanton, 6-2, 220 pounds, of Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Madison, Miss., is also an outstanding outfielder who is committed to play baseball at Mississippi State for the Class of 2022.
Stone Blanton highlights
He's also a standout linebacker who helped the Patriots last season earn a 12-2 record and their first state title since 2004. He recorded 61 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles despite missing games with a shoulder injury. Blanton also rushed 9 times for 22 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Since the NCAA announced a dead period March 13 and later extended it until May 31, prospects have been unable to visit schools. The spring evaluation period from April 15-May 31 also was canceled.
The evaluation period allowed colleges to visit schools to check on prospects, and watch the athletes work out and take part in spring practice. Numerous prospects have received scholarship offers over the years because coaches were able to see them in-person.
Blanton, who hopes to play baseball and football in college, took matters into his own hands by sending emails with his resume to college football coaches Saturday.
"My head coach and my dad really helped me out in what to do," Blanton said. "My dad was actually the one that sent the emails because he got the list of them. He, myself and my mom got together and wrote up an email."
His email campaign started to pay off quickly.
"I got a few follows on Twitter from Texas, Oregon, Oklahoma," Blanton said. "I talked to Clemson the other night. Usually when a coach follows me, we'll usually send him a text and have my highlights attached and stats. It seems to be paying off."
University of Arkansas linebackers coach Rion Rhoades reached out to Blanton's coach on Monday, and the Hogs were the first to offer Blanton since he started emailing schools. Blanton's coach told him about the news.
"He said Arkansas wanted to offer, and I was amazed," Blanton said. "That's great news. SEC. That's big-time football."
Nebraska, Mississippi State and Baylor offered him football scholarships on Thursday. Tennessee offered him in February.
Blanton, who reports running 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has a 330-pound bench press and a 300-power clean. He also has a 33-inch vertical leap.
CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming is on the selection committee for the Butkus Award that's given to the most outstanding linebacker in the NFL, college and high school ranks every year.
"I have seen him on film, and no doubt I will give him a Butkus nomination next year," Lemming said. "He's a big-time inside linebacker that can run and hit. Great range. Right now, I rate him a 3-star-plus prospect, but I believe he could be a 4-star."
Blanton, who's been a varsity football starter since the eighth grade, is confident he can play both sports in college.
"I'm only a sophomore, so I have time to think about it, but that would be a dream come true to do both," said Blanton, who has a 3.8 grade-point average. "I have a good work ethic, and I love to grind. I feel like I can handle it."
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]
Sports on 05/01/2020
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