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Hard At Work
There's no question that current Arkansas head coach John L. Smith wishes he could have been out on the road recruiting this spring.
That's something that he had done as a Razorback assistant the past three years while landing players such as Tevin Mitchel, Zach Hocker, Vin Ascolese, Brett Weir and others.
But when he took over for Bobby Petrino, Smith couldn't hit the road because the NCAA does not allow head coaches to be out during the five-week spring evaluation period.
He did recruit from the office and supervised the process as his staff put in hours and hours of work on the road.
"These guys have been out on the road busting their tails for the last four weeks," Smith said before the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Club meeting on Wednesday night. "When they get out there, they'll hit from four to eight schools per day. They will text in the prospects they have seen at the end of the day and the places they have been."
Smith then jumps headlong into the process.
"Then, we kind of put it together, transcribe it and go over video when they get back," Smith added. " What I'm trying to do is look at a lot of the guys they've already seen. When they come back on weekends, we've been meeting each Saturday to get an idea of what's going to take place the next week and where we are in recruiting."
There is no doubt that the fact that Smith is working on a 10-month contract has created some uncertainty in recruiting.
But still the Razorbacks have landed six commits so far – including Friday's pledge of Plantation (FL) American Heritage quarterback Tyler Cogswell (6-5, 235) ironically one more than at this time last season.
"It has been good," Smith said of the reception. "There has been questions asked with a little bit of uncertainty, but what we have to do is take away that bit of uncertainty. We have to make them understand this is a program, not an individual. That's what we're selling and we've got some commitments out of some guys and we're going to continue to get commitments."
The Razorbacks entered the 2011 season with 16 commits, something that might be tough to achieve before the 2012 season opener.
But somewhere around 12 would be a good number.
"We're going to continue to recruit as hard as we can the rest of the spring and throughout the summer," Smith said. "We're trying to see if we can't have a full boat by the time fall rolls around."
A trio of Fayetteville High stars – quarterback Austin Allen (6-2, 217), linebacker Brooks Ellis (6-3, 215) and safety Alex Brignoni (6-2, 195) all committed to the Razorbacks this week.
They made it clear they were going to go hard after the other in-state players Arkansas has offered in Pulaski Academy tight end Hunter Henry (6-6, 235) and North Little Rock tailback and Alabama commit Altee Tenpenny (5-11, 200).
"We have a gameplan at each position," Smith said. "We need a bell cow. That's why we are trying to get those in-state guys together, get them in the boat and then have them sell the program to everybody else. So that's crucial."