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:
Virginia OL learns process
2024 4-star offensive lineman Fletcher Westphal with Arkansas offensive line coach Cody Kennedy (left), Sam Pittman and Westphal's mother.
The recruiting process has been busy and educational for ESPN 4-star offensive tackle Fletcher Westphal.
After visiting 20 schools since January, including the University of Arkansas, Westphal said he has a better idea where he stands in the process.
“It’s hectic, but it’s a good hectic,” said Westphal, a junior. “You learn about a bunch of schools, you learn what you do like and what you don’t like. It builds on what I’m looking for and it helps me narrow down my list as I go on.”
Westphal, 6-8, 325 pounds, of Leesburg (Va.) Tuscarora, had about 13 scholarship offers when he and his mother Libby visited Fayetteville on April 23. He has since added 15 more offers.
After talking to Razorbacks offensive line coach Cody Kennedy on Tuesday, he said he plans to make a return visit to Arkansas with his mother and father Chris for the South Carolina game on Sept. 10. He’s looking to narrow his list to a top eight or 10 during the season.
“I’ve definitely been narrowing down schools, whether it’s a school that hasn’t been responsive with contact or just on a visit I found out something that was kind of like a deal breaker,” Westphal said. “The list is progressively narrowing and getting smaller.”
ESPN rates him the No. 13 offensive tackle and the No. 172 overall recruit in the nation for the 2024 class. He’s rated the No. 3 prospect in Virginia.
Westphal, who received an offer from Arkansas four days after his April visit, also has offers from Georgia, Stanford, Clemson, Tennessee, Penn State, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and others.
His visit to Arkansas came on the last day of spring practice which allowed him to talk to the several upperclassmen on the team while younger players got reps.
“It’s something you don’t always get to do on visits,” Westphal said. “During games, the players are locked in. I don’t want to talk to them because I don’t want to throw them off their game. Spring practices is like the perfect time to know and learn about players besides the June and summer visits.”
He made about nine visits after his trip to Fayetteville. He said all of his trips have been learning experiences.
“When coaches are talking about the smoke and mirrors, don’t believe everything other coaches are telling you,” Westphal said. “It is real, it does exist. The stuff gets found out. It can’t be hidden, whether it be good or bad. They’re not trying to hide the good stuff. It’s all bad stuff they’re trying to hide and when it pops out and a recruit like me sees it, that’s kind what drops you, whatever school it is, to the bottom of the list.”
Westphal has several deal breakers when he evaluating schools with instability on a staff and contributing players leaving a program and entering the portal being a couple.
“The housing is definitely one of the things and overall player attitude,” he said. “That’s why I love the spring period because you get to interact with the players a bunch. When I was at Arkansas, I was talking to a bunch of the players while I was there. I learned about other schools and learned about their experiences at Arkansas. It’s a great resource to have.”
During his visit to Arkansas, Westphal said he found Kennedy “genuine.” He said their relationship is progressing.
“It’s definitely building,” he said.
The NCAA dead period from June 27 to today allowed coaches and prospects a break from the recruiting process. Westphal, who is strong in his faith, was baptized last Sunday with his father and his mother’s cousin performing the baptism at the Rappahannock River, where his mother was baptized in her youth.
“He wanted me to get baptized in the same river my mom got baptized in,” Westphal said of his father.
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