In his weekly column, Dudley E. Dawson chats up Texas prep linebacker Austin Moss (6-3, 210, 4.6), one of the nation's top 2009 prospects, someone whose parents graduated from Arkansas colleges and has family still living here.
This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event. Click on the Arkansas Toyota banner for details.
Special Offer from Arkansas Toyota Dealers and HI:
Win free tickets for two to see the Arkansas Razorbacks play baseball this season at Baum Stadium.
It is simple. All you need to do is click on the banner, then enter your zipcode to go to the website of your nearest dealer. After you register to win this great package -- take a look at the Toyota line of vehicles!
It’s no secret that the University of Arkansas football staff is out during this spring evaluation period hunting for and trying to improve relationships with productive big-time linebackers.
One of those who has some Arkansas ties and certainly fits the bill is Rockwall (Texas) Rockwall-Heath linebacker Austin Moss (6-3, 210, 4.64), who had a whopping 142 tackles last season while playing for South Garland and is the 17th-best linebacker prospect in the country according to Scout.com.
That’s why the Razorbacks are among the 15 schools that have already put offers on the table for Moss, who made a trip to Fayetteville on April 18-19 to check out the campus.
“I really liked it a lot at Arkansas,” Moss said. “It was a really nice campus, got to talk to the coaches a little bit and really enjoyed them and thought they were cool and loved what they were doing when I got to see spring ball. I have a lot of interest in Arkansas.”
Moss, who bench presses 325 pounds and squats 475 and is on the ESPN Top 150 watch list, and his family certainly have some Arkansas ties.
His dad Mickey, who is the head coach at Rockwall, is a Southern Arkansas graduate and coached at Hamburg and Magnolia before moving to Texas.
His mom Sarah is a University of Central Arkansas grad who was born near Hope in Bodcaw.
In addition his cousin Jacob was a former walk on at Arkansas who lettered in 2003 and Jacob’s younger brother Thomas is walking on with the Razorbacks starting next season.
“We still have a lot of family in Arkansas both near Hope and in Conway,” Moss said. “I’m sure they would love for me to be a Razorback.”
Joining Arkansas in the hunt for Moss are Arizona, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Baylor, TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, Virginia, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Southern Miss, Iowa State and Cincinnati.
Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma have also been showing interest.
“I am looking at making my decision by the end of the summer and going to get it done by taking some more visits to a couple schools,” Moss said. “I am planning on getting back up to Arkansas to meet with the coaches and go over things because I think it is a great place and one I really need to take a hard look at while making my decision.”
Moss, whose dad is taking over at Rockwall after coaching at South Garland last season, had 14 tackles for losses, 5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries last season.
“I feel good about my ability to make plays from one side of the field to the other, my ability to read the play and get to the ball, take on blockers when I need to and my pass coverage,” Moss said. “But I need to continue to expand my game. I need to work on my speed and know that I can improve in every area. I will just continue to work hard to do so.”
South Garland was 10-2 last season and Moss expects to have similar if not better success at Rockwall this season.
“Right now I feel like that my new team is really coming together and we are going to have a great year,” Moss said. “I think that we are going to have a very good defense and a very good season.”
O o o
Arkansas’ basketball program is still involved with a pair of recruits with the spring signing period having one week left.
Cowley College (Kan.) small forward Montrell McDonald (6-6, 190), who visited Arkansas two weekends ago and has also been involved with Texas Tech, is apparently on the verge of making his announcement and signing a letter of intent.
The Razorbacks are also still recruiting The Patterson (N.C.) School guard Varez Ward (6-2, 180), who has played with UA signee Courtney Fortson in the same backcourt since the eighth grade.
Ward originally committed to Cincinnati, but backed out of that pledge and visited Texas last weekend and also has plans to take in Arkansas.
The pair, who played at Jefferson Davis High School in Birmingham, Ala., will graduate from Patterson this weekend and then Ward is likely to trek to Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks and Longhorns are set to play next season.
“He (Ward) really enjoyed his trip to Texas and is looking forward to coming to Arkansas,” Fortson said. “I have been telling him good things about Arkansas, but I am not going to pressure him. It would be fun to continue to play with him, but fun to play against him, too.”