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:
Texas tailback impressed by Hogs' support
Arkansas fans cover the field following a 40-21 victory over Texas on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Fayetteville.
The University of Arkansas football program hosted one of the top 2024 running backs in the nation for an unofficial visit over the weekend.
Bryan Jackson, 6-1, 220 pounds, of McKinney, Texas, has more than 20 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Ole Miss, Michigan State and others.
McKinney Coach Marcus Shavers, who lettered as a defensive lineman for the Razorbacks from 2005-07, exchanged text messages with Jackson after he was shown around by tight ends coach Dowell Loggains and running backs coach Jimmy Smith on Saturday.
“He said he liked it.” Shavers said. “He said he thought the facilities were cool. He really hit it off with Coach Loggains and Coach Smith. Those guys treated him really well. He liked the coaches and loved the place.”
Jackson rushed 204 times for 973 yards and 13 touchdowns, and had 12 catches for 100 yards while being named to the 5-6A District first team as a sophomore.
He quickly noticed on his first trip to Fayetteville how the Razorbacks enjoy statewide support.
“He said they’re all about the Razorbacks here because there’s no professional team in the state of Arkansas,” Shavers said. “So the closest you can get to a professional team is the University of Arkansas, and that’s a real cool thing because you can go anywhere in the state and be treated like a celebrity.”
Seeing his prized running back being appreciable how fans backed the Razorbacks moved Shavers.
“For him to pick that up off of that visit, I thought he was impressed by that notion,” Shavers said.
Shavers, who was a 4-star recruit out of Allen, Texas, in 2005, chose the Razorbacks over Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas State and others. He remembers being recruited by former Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt and hearing how fans were in every corner of the state.
“He said, 'Marcus, you can go down to Texas and you’ll only receive favor in Austin,'” Shavers said. “He said, 'You’ll go to Houston and you won’t be anything. You go to College Station, you go to Dallas, you wouldn’t be anything. At Arkansas, you can go to any city in our state and that Razorback is strong no matter where you go.'"
CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rates Jackson a 4-star-plus prospect while Rivals rates him a 4-star and the No. 1 all-purpose back in the nation.
“I really like him,” Lemming said. “There aren’t too many big backs anywhere anymore. He has strength, vision and balance.”
Shavers believes Jackson is a special talent.
“I think his talent level is generational,” Shavers said. “I think he has all the potential to be one of the best backs that’s maybe ever played the game. He’s got all the characteristics and building blocks that makes you feel like he will have a very, very bright future in the game of football.”
Jackson, who received his first offer from Utah the summer after his eighth-grade year, has outstanding character.
“Mom and dad have instilled major, high-quality characteristics in him,” Shavers said. “He’s humble, he’s gracious, he’s a great teammate. He has all the intangibles to make him a special individual in life and whatever he does.”
Shavers was teammates with former Arkansas running back great and two-time Doak Walker winner Darren McFadden, who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
McFadden has been attending McKinney practices since Shavers’ hiring in 2018 and offers up tips to Jackson and other Lion players.
“I think it’s pretty cool for me being a guy that got to play up at Arkansas with Darren McFadden,” Shavers said. “Once or twice a week, Darren comes to our practices and gives him some tricks to the trade.
"I think that’s a cool thing, because in a lot of ways, Bryan reminds me of the style Darren once was."
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