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KJW

Arkansas (ain't the head coaching job it used to be?)

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With the commitment of the young man from Central Arkansas Christian High School yesterday to the University of Southern California, this year's favorite for the national championship and the same school which almost made a "three-peat" three years ago, guess which state not called "California" will have the most players on USC's roster barring the unexpected next year?

Yep...you guessed it. Arkansas will have FOUR players, more than any other out-of-California state (counting the RIvals list of players committed this year) on the roster of the what many say is college football's marquee program.

Today's Demo-zette lists the preseason All-Arkansas team. Of those committed, most are going to Arkansas...but the others (so far) are headed to USC, Tulsa, Kansas and Wisconsin. Speaking of Tulsa, there will be something like 8 Arkies, thanks pretty much to Gus Malzahn, on the TU roster next year.* And of course, this is coming a season after Arkansas (the state) sent three recruits to Auburn University alone, all from the state's northwest.

And this is after I saw an article about three girl athletes from NWA heading out of state (a volleyball player from Siloam Springs to Kansas State, soccer players from Rogers heading to Furman and Tulsa). I'll bet we'd be amazed if we had a complete list of all the NWA athletes in all D-I sports now enrolled across America.

Anyone remember the days of Ken Hatfield, when it seemed like EVERY great Arkansas hs football player signed with the Hogs, Parade all-American (Little Rock Parkview had two of them on the same team in the late 80s) or not? I remember Hatfield losing one player from West Memphis (a very good one who, sadly, didn't pan out even though he looked like the DeAngelo Williams of his day) to Memphis, and signing everyone else he wanted in 1987.

Aporkalypse, as a Texas Tech fan I remember talking with you about how Texas Tech is not the head football coaching job it used to be now vs. the old SWC days when the school had not much more than a glorified high school stadium.

Arkansas isn't the head football coaching job it used to be, either. NWA's a totally different metro area than anything Ken Hatfield ever saw in the state, and I'm not sure that even he in his winning heyday would do any better than HDN is doing now. Plus, Hatfield never had everyone's Heisman candidate (also from Little Rock) like Nutt now has.

Speaking of HDN, though...I hope he does very well this year and that his 2007-08 recruits do, too. Hatfield took three players from Stuttgart high in the late 80s who were pretty good, just as HDN's taken three from Camden Fairview and four from Warren. However...in last year's state championship game those four from Warren still weren't able to beat a Nashville team (go Scrappers!) with one pretty shifty quarterback who I think was the only DI football recruit his school graduated that year. (*He's going to Tulsa after having decommitted from Kansas State.)

If HDN and future Arkansas coaches can unify the state again (and I think it will be tougher from here on out given the emergence of transplant-heavy NWA), look out.

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I have a hard time believing that Arkansas is not the job it use to be when we won 10 games last year, won the West, were ranked as high as #5 in the nation, finished 15th, have a preseason top 25 ranking this year, and have the leading Heisman trophy candidate.

For one thing, Arkansas is producing MUCH better and more abundant talent than it use to. There are more players to miss, but there are also more to get. Last year's recruiting class was an aberration. I'm the biggest Razorback fan you'll ever meet, and hell, I wouldn't have gone there last season with all the hoopla going on off the field.

If you look at the recruiting sites lists of Top 10 players in Arkansas, you will see that 9 out of 10 of them are committed to Arkansas. Joe Adams just wanted to get away. His voicemail message on his phone says "This is Joe Adams, future #1 NFL draft pick." He wanted the big city life he'll receive in LA, and obviously, it's hard to turn down. USC has learned of the new talent surge in Arkansas, and they will be here for a long time. Absoutely no one has what USC can offer: Celebrity life style, unmatched success, former NFL head coach, tradition, and an astronomical number of players currently in the NFL. No one can out recruit USC, and it's just unfortunate for the Hogs that they have begun recruiting our state.

I'm sick about the talent that has left the state (especially last year), but we're doing fine. We are in everyone's top 25 recruiting classes as it stands right now. And HDN and company have 5 more spots to fill before they complete the best recruiting class they have ever had.

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I have a hard time believing that Arkansas is not the job it use to be when we won 10 games last year, won the West, were ranked as high as #5 in the nation, finished 15th, have a preseason top 25 ranking this year, and have the leading Heisman trophy candidate.

For one thing, Arkansas is producing MUCH better and more abundant talent than it use to. There are more players to miss, but there are also more to get. Last year's recruiting class was an aberration. I'm the biggest Razorback fan you'll ever meet, and hell, I wouldn't have gone there last season with all the hoopla going on off the field.

If you look at the recruiting sites lists of Top 10 players in Arkansas, you will see that 9 out of 10 of them are committed to Arkansas. Joe Adams just wanted to get away. His voicemail message on his phone says "This is Joe Adams, future #1 NFL draft pick." He wanted the big city life he'll receive in LA, and obviously, it's hard to turn down. USC has learned of the new talent surge in Arkansas, and they will be here for a long time. Absoutely no one has what USC can offer: Celebrity life style, unmatched success, former NFL head coach, tradition, and an astronomical number of players currently in the NFL. No one can out recruit USC, and it's just unfortunate for the Hogs that they have begun recruiting our state.

I'm sick about the talent that has left the state (especially last year), but we're doing fine. We are in everyone's top 25 recruiting classes as it stands right now. And HDN and company have 5 more spots to fill before they complete the best recruiting class they have ever had.

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Well, well, well...the aforementioned Nashville, AR player, caught his first collegiate pass and his first collegiate TD last night vs. Louisiana-Monroe. I hope its the first of many for him.

I also hope Gus Malzahn earns a good HFC job in college some day.

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AJ Whitmore would be a redshirting 5th string WR here...although, I was a big fan of his in high school.

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AJ Whitmore would be a redshirting 5th string WR here...although, I was a big fan of his in high school.

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Agree to disagree. There is really no way to prove one way or the other. I've seen plenty of great high school athletes in Arkansas not translate their production to the college level. Even high profile ones, and vice versa.

The tough thing about recruiting is you could look at a guy like AJ Whitmore, and say, "Yeah, he could help us in 2 or 3 or 4 years." But then you compare him with the other guy vying for the same scholarship and you say, "Yeah, they are about equal as far as talent goes, but this guy is two inches taller."

When it gets down to the last couple of scholarships (which AJ would have been), you might as well be flipping a quarter.

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Agreed! :)

(You know who I feel sorry for in all this? Our friends in Jonesboro, Arkansas State.

They ought to be in on more of these Tulsa, Missouri State and even higher level Div I caliber high school football players not going to U of A than they are, but I'm afraid they've been so marginalized and regionalized that it will be an uphill climb for them even though a newspaper article of a few years back said they're stepping up their NWA efforts. That being said, they've had several back to back 6 win seasons lately and have a few NWA players on their roster (upperclassmen) so who knows?

An A.J. Wittemore could have been a star early for them as he may be for Tulsa (in a tougher conference) but after decommitting from Big XII school Kansas State I doubt ASU was very visible on his radar screen.)

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Did you hear about that University of Texas game tonight against Appalachian, I mean, ASU? :ph34r:

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With an exclamation point...Arkansas isn't the head coaching job it used to be:

Greenwood quarterback Tyler Wilson orally committed to Tulsa on Friday night.

Wilson, a preseaon All-Arkansas selection by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, passed for 4, 222 yards and 50 touchdowns as a junior, leading the Bulldogs to the Class 5 A state championship.

He completed 39 of 66 passes for 563 yards and 6 touchdowns in the Bulldogs

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And I think its NWA, with its overnight success and instant competition enhancement for the rest of the state, that's helping make this happen.

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I think people know about it. But oftens the recruits prefer to go to bigger more 'prestigious' schools. As far as fans go, I think they're mainly followed in northeast Arkansas. Although I think there's some fans around central Arkansas. When I lived in southeast Arkansas, I don't really recall any fans down there. You would see their scores and such mentioned on the news, but I don't think anyone followed them that closely. Especially not like the Razorbacks. If ASU was able to develop into a more serious Div I power, you could possibly start breaking up the state as being a 'Razorback' state. But even then the Razorback play in the SEC and are still going to be the most recognizable. But you could maybe weaken the Razorback's popularity in some areas of the state. I've wondered if the Razorbacks are as popular in northeast Arkansas compared to the other areas of the state.

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I must be missing something here. Tell me again . . . how does NWA affect football recruiting?

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To give a short answer...the competition has ratcheted up significantly in football (and pretty much all other sports) due to NWA in the past couple years. Just an educated guess, Mineola, but from all I see this is the reason, and better competition makes for better athletes and teams.

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Ah, I see. I thought you were trying to say that NWA development has somehow affected statewide recruiting. I was going to ask for some of what you're smoking! ;)

I agree that Mustain and some of the other Springdale graduates may have encouraged some recruiting coordinators to look at teams in the area more seriously. McFadden's Heisman candidacy, which he has little real chance of winning, probably has made some folks more interested in high school prospects from the state as a whole. And I think that the college recruiting has become so competitive that top-flight programs like USC are willing to go further afield to find talent than a decade ago.

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Before further comment, dig this about Springfield, MO (SPRINGFIELD! Home of our future Texas League baseball rivals the Cardinals), which as a city was over 100,000 in population well before the Bentonville metro area ever thought of flirting with that figure:

Now, let me put the above matchups in NWA terms. Webb City- (Springfield)Kickapoo was like Greenwood,AR playing Rogers. Camdenton-(Springfield)Glendale would be like Mountain Home playing Har-Ber. Rolla-(Springfield)Hillcrest would be like Russellville playing Springdale if Russellville were about 1/2 to 3/4 its current size. West Plains at (Springfield)Parkview is like Harrison playing at Bentonville. (Springfield)Central at Willard is about like Fayetteville High (if it were slightly smaller) playing at Gravette. Central is like a magnet school, very select. Kickapoo and Glendale take in a lot of students from well-to-do families. Parkview and Hillcrest are solidly middle class with some lower and higher income families mixed in. All the schools except Central compete at Missouri 5A which is the equivalent of Arkansas 6A.

All of the Springfield public high teams lost this past weekend.

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Sorry, Mineola (BTW, wasn't that Noble Willingham's hometown? I worked on his congressional campaign in 2000...he was a cool guy and I wish he could have been the Texas 1st district congressman).

Imagine Dallas/Fort Worth basically erupting from a Waco-sized city to the metroplex it is now in a period of 10 years. If everything else was constant, there'd almost instantly be an influx of football (or other high school athletic talent) in the state, even though there were talented players before from Houston, East and West Texas and San Antonio/Austin.

On a smaller but no less significant scale, that's what's happened in Arkansas with the emergence of northwest Arkansas. For instance, Arkansas has had a high school swimming championship for at least the past two and 1/2 decades. Most of the champions used to be from the Little Rock area but there would be event winners from other places like Arkadelphia, Fayetteville, etc. Fast forward to this past spring 2007 meet...all eleven girl's state championship events were won by Bentonville, which may barely even have had a team in the early 80s. Coaches at the 2007 meet said Bentonville's accomplishment (they won the boy's title also but didn't sweep every event) was pretty much unprecedented.

Yesterday I read an article that Tulsa, Hawaii and North Texas (mostly lower DI schools) are recruiting two friends who are wide receivers at Bentonville and Fayetteville High, respectively. If they'd sign that would make at least 6 DI football recruits from NWA that we know about so far in this year's senior class alone. By comparison, the aforementioned Springfield MO schools had 1 heralded recruit last year though they used to have at least 1-2 DI players each year...but Springfield's now of at least equal size to NWA and as I said has had a much more established athletic tradition...they should be churning out as many good players as we are. But they're not.

For some reason (and I think I know why) this is a very competitive area in terms of high school athletics. You correctly said that USC and other schools may be just now discovering this area, but they're doing so because there are now a lot of athletes to discover.

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Imagine Dallas/Fort Worth basically erupting from a Waco-sized city to the metroplex it is now in a period of 10 years. If everything else was constant, there'd almost instantly be an influx of football (or other high school athletic talent) in the state, even though there were talented players before from Houston, East and West Texas and San Antonio/Austin. On a smaller but no less significant scale, that's what's happened in Arkansas with the emergence of northwest Arkansas.

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I'll shorten my responses, Mineola. :)

- I'd venture to say that there's been a significant increase in talent within the state's borders due to all the people and $$$ that have moved into Arkansas. That's an increase right there. (If anyone here has a list of all the state championships won in the past five years, post it here...maybe I'll eat crow on this but definitely not in the last two years.)

- I can't prove this, but I'll bet that some coaches and players in other parts of the state are pushing themselves harder in order to try and beat all those NWA teams...there's probably some "cream" rising to the top there as well. (And to be fair, Little Rock has grown significantly, too.)

More players, more talent, more competition...and NWA figures into the mix.

And, (again, all IMO) any as a result University of Arkansas head coaching job isn't the same as it used to be, and that's a good thing.

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(Interesting tidbits:

- The six senior quarterbacks in Arkansas 7A West in 2006, according to the Times of B/R/S/F, passed for an average of 2,100+ yards and 19 TDs last season. The QB at Van Buren, a junior that season, passed for 2,100 yards.

- Last season there were at least 10 DI prospects in NWA/FSM: 3 signed with Auburn, 2 with Mississippi State, 2 with Arkansas, 2 with Missouri State (each of them had been offered or recruited by DI schools, with an OL from Shiloh Christian having several DI offers), 1 with North Carolina. Add in at least 6 DI prospects in NWA/FSM this year (2 committed to Tulsa, 1 to Wisconsin, 1 to Arkansas, 2 (at least) being recruited by other DI schools) plus the "Springdale 5" of 2005 (I don't know what other NWA/FSM DI signees there were that year) and the area is producing an average of at least 7 DI football prospects each year the past 3 years.

- Former Rogers QB and 2006 Arkansas OPOY Cody Kirby (who won the latter award over QBs Youngblood, Loucks, Whitmore and Wilson) accounted for 2 rushing TDs yesterday as Missouri State got its first road win since 2004, over D I-AA ranked Tennessee-Martin. Kirby's now accounted for 3 TDs in his first two college starts as a true frosh for MSU in tandem with a junior QB at that school.

- According to the Springfield newspaper today, Rivals has 1 player in the Springfield metro area listed as a potential Division I football player)

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My goodness...I forgot that Daniel Stegall nearly went to the University of Miami the same year as Mitch Mustain came to Fayetteville. (Stegall went the pro baseball route, I believe.) That makes at least 22 DI recruits from NWA the past 3 years. I read where Siloam Springs' QB is being recruited by Arkansas State, so he may make it 23. When you look at the QUARTERBACKS ALONE Arkansas (and NWA) has produced these past years at the HS level... (Then again, it's one thing to do well in high school, quite another to do so in college.)

BTW, my son's freshman year history teacher at Bentonville High, also a coach on the BHS football team, told me it's amazing to see the football talent that's coming out of Arkansas now, and said that NWA appears to be the major reason for the talent upsurge.

BTW #2, BHS lost one of this year's DI recruits (a WR) for the season with a torn ACL, but now has a young man at RB (a converted linebacker) who's averaging 217 yards rushing per game over the team's first three games...so they may have lost one DI player while gaining another.

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Just read an article that Mitch Mustain is really impressing people big time on the USC scout team and will be in the mix for a starting job next year.

Kodi Burns is playing tandem QB for Auburn as a true freshman...scored a passing TD tonight against an overmanned New Mexico State team. Ziemba's been getting PT as a true frosh, too. A.J. Whitmore has been getting PT as a true frosh as well though has only scored 1 TD in the first game. QB Cody Kirby before tonight's game was the number 3 scorer for Missouri State as a true frosh.

And tonight's Arkansas game. :(

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I just don't know what to say about Arkansas. We have the lead and somehow we always blow it. I think we should try going with a different qb. It's not all C.Dick's fault b/c our receivers aren't doing their job either. Anyone know when Marcus Monk is coming back...or even if he is? Our secondary needs to improve too. With the game that Felix and Darren had you would think that we would've won. The offense only scored one TD and yet we scored 29 pts. Turnovers and penalties just killed us.

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