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:
No sugarcoating needed for big back
Arkansas assistant coach Jimmy Smith speaks Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, alongside running back Raheim Sanders during practice at the university practice facility in Fayetteville.
Consensus 4-star running back J’Marion Burnette’s relationship with University of Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith and the Hogs’ potent rushing attack has him intrigued with the Razorbacks.
Burnette, 6-1, 220 pounds, of Andalusia, Ala., said his communication with Smith makes the Arkansas assistant feel like family.
“He stays in touch and when we talk, he’s straight up,” Burnette said. “He doesn’t sugarcoat nothing and he’s going to tell you how it is regardless. I don’t want anybody just telling me something just to make me feel good.”
He has rushed for 4,038 yards in three seasons, including rushing 187 times for 1,473 yards and 17 touchdowns in 11 games as a junior. ESPN rates him the No. 8 running back and the No. 123 overall prospect in the nation for the 2024 class along with being the No. 7 recruit in Alabama.
Burnette said he has spoken with Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman and is aware of his background.
“I looked up the campus and it looked beautiful,” Burnette said of Arkansas. “The coaching staff seems great. They run the ball. Coach Pittman was an O-line coach.”
The Hogs led all Power 5 schools in rushing in 2021 with an average of 227.8 yards per game and were fourth nationally in 2022 with an average of 236.7 yards per game.
Burnette didn’t need to be reminded about Arkansas’ rushing attack.
“I like that a lot because I know there’s some good running backs in the room,” he said. “If I go there, I’ll be able to feed off somebody else.”
A trip to Fayetteville next month is a possibility.
“I’m hoping to go there in March,” Burnette said.
Burnette has 27 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, Michigan, Ole Miss, Miami, Louisville, Tennessee, Georgia and others.
Being a bigger back, Burnette said he takes full advantage of his physical edge.
“I don’t like to do all the juking. I just like running over people for real,” he said.
Defenders often complain about tackling him.
“They do all the time every game,” Burnette said. “This guy was like, ‘You’re too big to be playing with us.’ It’s something different every game.”
He announced a top 10 of Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee, Michigan, Penn State, Texas and Florida State in November and said a commitment was coming soon. It now appears his decision will come this summer after he makes official visits.
“I was going to make a decision, but I’m going to wait until I take my OVs in the summer,” he said.
Burnette indicated an official visit to Fayetteville is a good possibility.
Besides a team that runs the ball, he said his decision will come down to the people in the program.
“A good environment,” Burnette said. “Positive people everywhere. Everybody just wants to see everybody do good.”
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