Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
DL target high on Arkansas
The SEC is a line of scrimmage league and recruiting athletically gifted defensive linemen is a must.
Junior college defensive lineman Isaiah Iton, a University of Arkansas target, fits the mold of a top-tier lineman and is being heavily pursued by the Hogs.
UA linebackers coach Rion Rhoades and defensive coordinator Barry Odom don’t miss a day in reaching out to Iton.
“Some schools that have offered haven’t really said anything, but they’ve been communicating with me on a daily basis,” Iton said.
Iton, 6-4, 290 pounds, of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Maryland, Houston, Washington State and seven others.
He had 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack for Northern Colorado as a freshman before transferring to junior college. Rhoades communicated with him before and after Arkansas’ victory at Mississippi State.
“And that Sunday morning too,” Iton said. “He was talking about how they beat Mississippi State. I like all of the communication.”
Rhoades reaching out to him as often as he does makes Iton feel wanted at Arkansas.
“It helps a lot with my interest level,” he said. “It helps to know that I’m not being BS to, and they want me for me.”
Iton, who played his high school football at Pearland, Texas, likes the thought of playing in the SEC.
“That’s really attractive,” Iton said. “That’s SEC, can’t pass that up. In the SEC you have a lot of greats playing there.”
He said Ole Miss and Maryland are also recruiting him hard. Iton expects the Hogs and Rebels to host him for visits.
“This weekend and next weekend I’m going to be doing virtual visits,” Iton said.
The Razorbacks offered Iton on Oct. 2.
“I was really happy about it,” Iton said. “The way they’re talking to me and how they need me upfront. I was like ‘Yeah I could be that guy’.”
Iton, who expects to graduate in December and enroll at his new school in January, has a 6-foot 9-inch wingspan. He said his talks with Rhoades has him intrigued.
“They’re on the up rise, they’re rebuilding with the players that have and they’re changing the culture,” Iton said. “That’s what has intrigued me about Arkansas. They did just beat Mississippi State and they’re really trying to change the culture and get back to being a winning program like they use to be.”
Rhoades was the head coach at Hutchinson for 13 years before joining the Razorback staff.
“He’s a good guy,” Iton said. “When he recruits me since I’m in JUCO he knows how the struggle is right now. He connects with me in a different level because he knows what I’m dealing with right now, so I like that.”
When asked if any schools were standing out to him, Iton said Arkansas was after thinking it over.
“Right now they’re all standing out to me but like Arkansas and Ole Miss are really … really Arkansas because they’ve talking to me the most,” he said. “They’ve been staying after me the most right now.”
A self-professed momma’s boy, Iton’s mother Natacha is his hero. He calls her “a strong woman.”
“She beat breast cancer last year but she’s still going through the aftereffects as we speak,” he said. “I won’t say she’s fully recovered because she’s still going to the doctor. She’s back on her feet and working again.”
“She’s done everything for me. She’s a fighter.”
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