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:
Georgia back clicks with Hogs' RB coach
Arkansas assistant coach Jimmy Smith speaks Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, alongside running back Raheim Sanders during practice at the university practice facility in Fayetteville.
One of the nation’s top prospects in the 2024 class is planning to visit Arkansas in the near future.
Jadan Baugh, 6-1, 215 pounds, of Decatur (Ga.) Columbia, has more than 20 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Michigan, Texas, South Carolina, Miami, Florida, Purdue and Mississippi State.
He is one of the top athletes nationally and is being recruited to play linebacker by most schools, but Razorbacks running backs coach Jimmy Smith wants him as a running back. Baugh said he and Smith communicate often.
“We text. He asks me how the family is doing,” Baugh said. “He talks a lot about trying to get me up there to check out the facility and stuff like that.”
During the Dec. 2-17 and Jan. 13-28 contact period, Smith made a statement by being a regular at Baugh’s school to check on him. His sincere, upfront approach to recruiting has impressed Baugh.
“You just feel like he’s real, real genuine,” Baugh said. “When you’re talking to certain people, sometimes you can see through certain things. What he’s saying, he just seems real.”
Baugh did it all for the Eagles as a junior. He had 27 receptions for 442 yards 5 touchdowns, and rushed 15 times for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Defensively, he recorded 54 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 2 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and 1 recovered fumble.
ESPN rates him a 4-star recruit, the No. 20 athlete and No. 163 overall prospect in the nation in the 2024 class.
Smith was a successful high school coach before joining the Georgia State staff in March 2019 then the Arkansas staff a year later. He turned Cedar Grove High School into a powerhouse as its head coach, winning the school’s first two state championships in 2016 and 2018.
He was named Georgia Coach of the Year in Class AAA those two seasons. Smith compiled a 67-14-1 record in six seasons as the head coach.
Baugh is aware of Smith’s success six miles away from his school.
“He coached at Cedar Grove, and that’s close to my school,” Baugh said. “I’m real familiar with him. That’s real cool. It’s like seeing people from where you’re from be successful, as well.”
Baugh was impressed to hear Arkansas led the Power 5 and ranked second nationally with 227.8 rushing yards per game during the 2021 season and that the Razorbacks were fourth among Power 5 schools and No. 7 nationally in rushing in 2022 (236.7 yards).
He is looking to visit Fayetteville soon.
“It should be in the early spring,” Baugh said. “I think it’s going to be, like, March.”
Baugh said he is also looking to visit Alabama and Tennessee this spring. He visited the Volunteers in the fall and for a summer camp.
He visited Georgia, Georgia Tech and South Carolina in January.
Baugh also shines in the classroom with a 3.9 grade-point average. While he is uncertain on a possible major, he is considering sports medicine or archaeology.
Baugh thought of making an early commitment in November, but he backed off after talking with his parents.
“They really said to keep my options open and focus on what I’m doing right now instead of focusing on long-term things, because it was at one point during our season the focus was on recruiting instead (of) focusing on our season,” he said. “They said, ‘When the time comes, God is going to let you know,’” Baugh said.
When he does announce his decision, he knows how he will decide.
“Where I feel at home and where my family feels what’s best for me, too,” Baugh said.
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