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When University of Arkansas quarterback commit Jim Youngblood of Camden Fairview got the news, he was out having dinner with his family.
Word that the Razorbacks had just hired Atlanta Falcons head coach and former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino just made the meal taste even better.
“We were out to dinner when we got the information and the whole restaurant started buzzing,” Youngblood said. “People are really happy about that."
Especially Youngblood, who passed for 2,533 yards and eighteen touchdowns and added an additional 635 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns on the ground in a 12-1 season.
“I am so pumped,” Youngblood said. “I have been a fan of his for a long time and what he did with (current Louisville quarterback) Brian Brohm and I just hope I can make the same type progress under him."
He is one of three Camden Fairview stars that are commits to Arkansas along with tailback De’Anthony Curtis and defensive end LaVunce Askew.
“De'Anthony's going to be really excited because he is the type of back that will fit just great in this offense,” Youngblood said. “We are going to air it out more than they have been and I know all the Warren guys and (Pulaski Academy’s) Cruz (Williams) are just going to be thrilled. But we also will have a strong running game."
It had been a search in which three or four different guys appeared on the verge of being the head coach only to back out.
"For us to kind of be up and down and not knowing who we are going to get and than this happen, it's a home run,” Youngblood said.
That’s the same attitude shared by Chris Gragg, who joins fellow Warren wideouts Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and WR/defender Basmine Jones among 19 Arkansas commitments – all of whose scholarship offers will be honored per Petrino.
“I know he did some great things when he was at Louisville and didn’t at Atlanta because Michael Vick got in all that trouble,” Gragg said. “I know he helped develop Brian Brohm. All the guys down here are excited about Petrino because he really uses his wide receivers."
One wide receiver that Petrino will likely make a beeline for is Central Arkansas Christian’s Joe Adams, who committed to USC back in the summer.
"I think that is a great fit for Arkansas,” Adams said. “He brings in a great offense that uses a lot of receivers and is committed to getting them the ball. I am taking my official trip to USC in January and I am still committed, but I am definitely going to take a visit to Arkansas now."
While the wide receivers all seem happy, the running back commits like Curtis and San Antonio’s Devin Thomas – who has selected to the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio but will be unable to play due to injury – should like the offense as well.
Petrino, named by ESPN as one of the game’s five best coaches when it comes to offensive revolution, calls his attack the power spread.
"The first thing our offense is about is utilizing our weapons," Petrino said in that . "We have a philosophy that we call 'FTS' -- Feed the Studs. We want to get the ball to our best players and make sure we utilize the guys who can go out and make plays."
He noted at his UA introductory press conference that his offense will be aggressive and that he wants to be able to pass the ball when he wants to and needs to and be run the ball when he wants to and when he needs to.
It spends about two-thirds of a game in modern, spread formations (either zero or one back and four or five receivers) and the other third running traditional, power-I football.
"Basically, I believe if you're ever going to win a national championship, you have to be able to run the football in the second half," Petrino said. "We don't just run the spread. We have the ability to run the ball downhill."
That’s music to the ears of Thomas, who said he remains firmly committed to Arkansas.
“I know that his offenses have been pretty balanced and I think that will fit me like a glove,” Thomas said. “He is a great coach and I am looking forward to meeting him and getting to know him.”
Offensive line commits Austin Eoff of Fort Smith Northside and Matt Hall of Russellville were also pleased with the hire.
“I was pumped when I heard about it and I think we got us a great football coach,” Hall said. “He is very well respected and has had great success in college at Louisville. I think his offense were about 50-50 with both power running and putting it in the air a lot. That has been excited.
“I am really excited that it is over with now,” Eoff said. “It’s been about three weeks now and I am just ready to get started with Coach Petrino, get to know him and start to build a relationship.”
Hall transferred from a run-oriented offense at Dardanelle to a more wide-open attack at Russellville his senior season.
“I think that is really going to help me, especially with the new offense that Coach Petrino is bringing in,” Hall said. “Arkansas has hired them a great coach, somebody who was very successful and then they wanted him in the NFL. I feel great about this hire.”
Georgia prep defender Justin Smith, another UA commit, was certainly all on board and excited.
Thrilled," Smith told the Atlantaa Journal Constitution. "If [Petrino] can [win big] at Louisville, just wait and see what he can do at Arkansas. I'm sure he'll have us competing for national championships as quickly as possible."