There are a lot of high school and junior college football prospects making the trip to Fayetteville this weekend for Saturday night's University of Arkansas-USC game, but probably not many who are going to put out as much effort to get there as a trio from Independence (Kan.) Community College.
Independence head coach and Arkansas native Dave Ward, Pirates defensive end and former Sylvan Hills star and UA signee Kevin Hubbard
(6-3, 235) and former Florida prep cornerback Allen Bell (6-1, 180, 4.4) will all be in Colorado Friday night, but have every intention of being at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
Indy is taking on Air Force Prep Friday at 1 p.m. and then hit the road via bus back.
"That's the plan," Ward said. "We play Air Force at 1 so we should be on the bus and headed back by 7 and be here (Independence) by 6 or 7 a.m. We'll get a little sleep and then be on our way over there. We don't want to miss it."
Both Bell and Hubbard - who the Razorbacks are recruiting and who both have three years of eligibility - were seeing their first junior college action on Saturday night against visiting Cisco.
It ended disappointingly for them with a tie game stopped for three hours for lightning turning into a 16-7 loss to Cisco some six hours after the athletes first took the field to warm up.
" Cisco is a quality opponent and I think they are going to do well in that league down there," Ward said. "But we didn't play how we are capable of playing. I am an Arkansas guy and it eats me up losing to any team from Texas anyway."
Bell, who played his high school football with current Razorback Michael Smith
at Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards, came to Independence on a track scholarship but ended up missing football and joining the squad last spring.
He showed great coverage skills on Saturday, including one interception that he returned 37 yards and set his team up inside the 10 although the offense fumbled that threat away in a first half where Indy held Cisco to just 26 yards total offense.
He also had a 62-yards kick return and one of 48 on his team's last two possessions to give them a chance.
"Allen Bell is going to be a great, great player," Ward said. "He played a great game tonight and just shut that side down with the exception of two 6-yard hitch routes. I don't think they completed any other passes all night on his side. He is a real lockdown cover corner.
"As a kick returner he has such great speed," Ward added. "If he hits it just right it is so long, farewell. He looked really good coming into camp and has been very solid all throughout. He is still young and has a ways to go, but after coaches see this film tonight they are going to see what kind of player he is and the offers will come rolling in."
Bell was distraught after the game.
"We should have won that game," Bell said. "It was a real tough loss. We were so ready just to come out here and finish this that it wasn't that tough to wait around because we just knew we were going to finish them off. It just didn't turn out the way we wanted to."
His only offer so far is from East Carolina, but he is hoping one from Arkansas is forthcoming soon.
"Arkansas has been staying in contact," Bell said. "I know some people over there and they have real nice facilities, a great program and its an SEC one, which is the best conference out there. Playing in the SEC is all I have ever wanted to do."
Hubbard signed with Arkansas in the 2005 class knowing that he would have to head to a junior college first before getting a chance to return.
He redshirted last season and started Saturday night at defensive end while picking up eight tackles, 3 hurries and a sack during the loss.
Former Memphis prep star Jacques Crawford took a screen pass for 65 yards for a score before the weather break and then after Cisco took the lead on a field goal, Crawford ripped off a 50-yard run to seal the deal.
"Kevin just provides you an immediate pass rush," Ward said. "He is such an athletic kid and for being a defensive end runs so well. He is mobile and has great lateral movement. Kevin's thing is we have got to get him a little heavier and get him in the weight room a little. But there is no doubt he is Division I athletically."
Hubbard has not missed an Arkansas home game in a long time, but will start having to do so as his games and the Razorbacks will be played on the same Saturdays.
"I am trying to hurry up and get back there so I won't have to miss any more games," Hubbard said. "Arkansas will always be my number one choice because that is where I am from and I feel like family with the coaches there."
Hubbard, who as of yet does not have a 2007 offer from Arkansas, says he is also now getting interest from Texas A&M, Louisville, TCU and SMU.
"I will give everybody a fair shot if it does not work out with Arkansas," Hubbard said. "I have a lot of D-2 offers and I'm thinking I'll start to get D-1s again now that there will be some film for them to see. But I would like to get back to Arkansas."
In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson writes about a couple of players and a head coach at Independence Community College who plan to be on hand and rooting for the Razorbacks against USC on Saturday - after a very long bus ride Friday night.