The Recruiting Guy

UA assistant makes impression, LB enjoys visit

Arkansas assistant coach Jimmy Smith speaks Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, alongside running back Raheim Sanders during practice at the university practice facility in Fayetteville.

University of Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith was one of the first to extend an early offer to freshman running back Ja’Michael Jones, who’s destined to be one of the top prospects in the nation.

Jones, 5-10, 190 pounds, of Montgomery (Ala.) Trinity Presbyterian School, received the offer from Smith on Jan. 23 and now has more than 10 offers from other schools like Penn State, Auburn, Miami, Texas A&M, Southern Cal and Florida State.

Communication for freshman prospects isn’t easy with college coaches unable to make direct contact, but Jones and others in his class can call coaches.

“I’ll call him once every week,” Jones said of Smith. “Whatever day I’m not busy, I’ll give him a call. We’ll talk about how our days have been going and just general things going on in our lives.”

Jones, a shifty, powerful runner with good speed, rushed 127 times for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Smith visited his school during the contact period that ran from December to February and plans to return this spring to observe.

“He plans on coming to see me later in the spring. I’m looking froward to that,” Jones said. “He just wants me to do stuff live in front of him. A lot of coaches can see it on film and the highlights, but he wants to see me in person.”

Jones’ physicality is helped with above average strength for his age. He has a 285-pound bench press, 410-pound squat and a 245-pound power clean. He said he’s considering a visit to Fayetteville in large part because of his relationship with Smith.

“Coach Smith, having that relationship, he’s a very good coach,” said Jones, who has a 3.0 grade-point average and is considering business as a major in college. “A lot of coaches at my school tell me some coaches are going to tell you the same thing, so choose wisely and get to know them like personally.”

Smith appreciates Jones’ consistency in reaching out and in return Jones said he enjoys talking to an enthusiastic Smith.

“The excitement, I can hear it in his voice when I call him because as a freshman they can’t call me, so he really appreciates me taking the time out of my day to give him a call,” Jones said.

LB enjoys visit

Sophomore linebacker Kris Thompson said his interaction with the Arkansas coaches and players during a visit Tuesday made him feel like Fayetteville could become his home.

“What stood out to me was the coaches and how they acted,” Thompson said. “Everywhere I go they have nice facilities and a nice place and nutrition, but just how the coaching staff and the players acted and treated you, it felt like it could be home.”

Thompson, 6-1, 215, of Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tenn., has 10 offers from schools like Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, UNLV, Louisville and others, while Arkansas is showing strong interest.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Travis Williams showed Thompson what he does well and pointed out areas for improvement.

“He brought me in his office and he had my film up and he was telling me all the great things that he saw on my film,” Thompson said. “Then he also helped me learn with my footing. He was telling me details that can help me succeed on the field.”

Thompson has yet to be rated by the four major recruiting services. But he was named second-team Maxpreps All-American for his play last season.

He said Williams wanted to see him play more at inside linebacker before extending an offer. He said he’s ready to visit Arkansas again.

“Of course, at some point definitely,” Thompson said.