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:
Texan strives to shine on defense
The University of Arkansas is one of the top schools for highly recruited defensive lineman Markis Deal.
Deal has narrowed his list of more than 30 scholarship offers to a top four of Arkansas, TCU, Southern Cal and Georgia. While On3.com rates him a 4-star prospect, the No. 2 interior offensive lineman and No. 28 overall prospect for the 2023 class, Deal said he plans to play on the defensive side in college.
He visited the Hogs for the Missouri game in November and visited again for the first spring practice on March 13. He visited two days later while in Northwest Arkansas visiting his mother Nikki’s side of the family.
“I really like the coaches there and the atmosphere when I was there for the game,” Deal said of Arkansas.”It was amazing, just getting to see the practice and the high tempo. Then getting to talk to [defensive line] Coach [Deke] Adams and them seeing me as a D-lineman, it really improved my view of them because I really want to play D-line and they want to give me a shot at it. o I really like that.”
Deal, 6-6, 290 pounds, of Garland (Texas) Naaman Forest, also has scholarship offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Colorado, Michigan State and others.
Being able to interact with other Arkansas athletes in the Jerry and Gene Jones academic center in March and watching Coach Sam Pittman and the staff during practice stood out.
“Seeing how Coach Pittman ran things and how the coaches were interacting with their players, it was awesome,” Deal said.
Deal had 37 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble as a junior while also playing on the offensive line. His play earned him District 9-6A Two-Way Lineman of the Year.
Shortly after Adams was hired in January, he reached out to Deal.
“He told me he wanted to give me the opportunity to play D-line and since then we’ve been talking pretty much every other week,” Deal said. “We really have a good relationship.”
Deal’s father Michael, who played on the defensive and offensive lines for Texas-El Paso in 1995-98, is the defensive line coach at Naaman Forest.
The younger Deal said his father and Adams coach alike.
“He’s going to move me around,” said Deal of Adams. “That’s pretty much what I do now with my dad. Similar coaching style and I really like that. He’s a great dude.”
He and Pittman talk occasionally.
“He’s [a] great dude and has a wonderful personality,” Deal said. “He’s just a great guy and really cares about his players.”
Among the several family members living in Northwest Arkansas are Deal’s aunt, Samantha Mosher of Bentonville, and his grandmother, Joan Casazza, who lives in Bella Vista.
The elder Deal said Pittman corresponds with Cazazza and his wife.
“He’s done a great job of recruiting momma and grandma,” Michael Deal said. “They get mail from him. Happy Mother’s Day and all that kind of good stuff. He’s done a real good job with that.”
After getting mail from Pittman, Cazazza was ready to declare her preference for her grandson.
“She was like, ‘Well this is my favorite,’ ” Michael Deal said.
He praised Pittman and the UA staff for their ability to communicate.
“Obviously we talk football, but you really get to understand what else they’re about other than just football, which is kind of cool,” Michael said.
Deal said he is looking to get back to Fayetteville this summer while also planning to see his other top four schools. A first trip to Georgia in June is on the plate.
“Hopefully the … 12th or 13th, something like that,” Michael Deal said of a Georgia visit. “We’re going to try and do a little SEC trip. Get to Georgia, get to Alabama and while we’re there, try and see as much as a we can.”
While on the next trip to Fayetteville, Markis said he wants to get more insight from the players about the program.
“They’re pretty much going to give you their true feelings on how it is,” Markis said. “So it would be great to get their point of view too.”
Deal, who has a best throw of 55 feet, 1 inch in the shot put, competed in the event at the Texas high school state track and field meet on Saturday in Austin.
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