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:
Razorbacks put sights on hard-hitting linebacker
Arkansas linebackers coach Rion Rhoades speaks to reporters on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Fayetteville.
University of Arkansas linebacker target Martez Thrower's physicality last season caused issues for more than just his opponents.
"Evidence of that is he broke two face masks in one game last year striking people," his high school Coach Rob Stowe said.
Martez Thrower highlights
Thrower, 6-1, 210 pounds, 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Rochelle (Ga.) Wilcox County recorded 126 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 12 quarterback pressures, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 pass breakups, an interception and a blocked punt as a junior.
After he broke his first face mask in the 49-0 victory over Charlton County, Thrower used a helmet of a junior-varsity player. A contingency plan was put in place after he broke that face mask as well..
"We had to keep an extra helmet ready after that," Stowe said.
It came in handy when Thrower broke a third face mask later in the season. Stowe said he's had only three other players break face masks during his 25-year coaching career.
"But that guy did it three times this past season, and he's so good we can't afford not to have him," Stowe said of Thrower. "You're like, 'Don't quit being physical, Martez.' We just have to figure out how to get Schutt or Riddell to make a helmet that doesn't get broken.
"He will strike you better than any player I've been able to coach in my 25 years."
Stowe has coached other prospects who signed with SEC schools.
"We had a kid sign with Auburn this past year, and had a couple of kids at Georgia," Stowe said. "Martez stands out even above them in terms of a physical, knock-your-head-off kind of guy."
Arkansas linebacker coach Rion Rhoades extended a scholarship offer to Thrower on Wednesday. Tennessee, Mississippi State, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Colorado, Michigan State and Nebraska are among his other 16 offers.
"My level of interest is real high," said Thrower, who has a 360-pound bench press and 475-pound squat. "Arkansas is definitely going to be in my top 10 once I get to know all of the coaches."
An avid hunter and fisherman, Thrower said he and Rhoades have things in common.
"He's a pretty cool guy," Thrower said. "He's kind of similar to me. Both of us are quiet. We have a really good connection outside of football. He likes to do stuff I like to do. He said he likes to hunt and fish."
Thrower, who also likes riding four-wheelers, talked to Coach Sam Pittman and Rhoades on Monday.
"They told me all the stuff I could do because I like going outdoors," he said. "I'm not an inside person."
He also had 34 carries for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns, and 5 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdowns as a junior.
"He gets about five to six touches a game on offense," Stowe said.
But football is not the only area where Thrower excels.
"He's a better person," Stowe said. "He's a 'yes sir, no sir' kid. A very humble person. In this day and time on social media -- I'm not knocking what kids do when they put out a top 10 or whatever -- but that's not Martez Thrower. He could care less about that kind of stuff."
Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom likens Thrower to former Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who was the 19th overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2010 NFL Draft.
"I'm phrasing what Coach Odom said about Martez, but Coach Odom said he's the closest thing he's seen to Sean Weatherspoon," Stowe said. "That's a pretty high compliment."
CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rates Thrower a 3-star-plus prospect.
"A good defender who played safety and linebacker," Lemming said. "Undersized but fast. Quick to the ball, a playmaker."
Thrower hopes to visit schools once the NCAA lifts the dead period that's been in place since March 13.
"I would say Mississippi State, then I would come up to Arkansas," Thrower said. "Then I would say Nebraska, Colorado, Georgia Tech and Troy."
He's looking for a school that can help him network for success after football.
"Connections of colleges when football is done and if the NFL doesn't work out," he said. "I want to make some place home."
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]
Sports on 05/19/2020
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