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January 19, 2004

Big weekend a big success

The football recruiting Class of 2004 is beginning to take shape and by most accounts it should be one of the best classes in several years at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have 22 public commits plus a couple of key private commits. Arkansas is still actively recruiting another half dozen or so prospects.

The only new oral commitment from this past weekend was Tulsa Washington defensive end Michael Tate, but eight others were orally committed entering the weekend plus at least four players left Fayetteville without an offer. The athletes from this past weekend that are still considering Arkansas and holding offers are Klein (Texas) Forest wide receiver Bobby McCoy, 6-2, 175, 4.4, Navarro (Texas) College cornerback Kyle Williams, 6-1,190, 4.4, and Newnan (Ga.) defensive lineman Ernest Mitchell, 6-1, 285, 4.85.

Arkansas also is still actively recruiting Little Rock Central defensive lineman Fred Bledsoe, 6-4, 289, 4.79, Little Rock Parkview tight end Marc Winston, 6-7, 235, 4.7, Buford (Ga.) running back Darius Walker, 5-11, 197, 4.37, and West Orange (Texas) Stark athlete Kerry Franks, 5-10, 185, 4.4.

In addition, Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt is trying to put together the best walk-on class in the history of the school. He has a good start with seven public oral commitments and several others still on the radar.

Conway offensive lineman Collin Sears, 6-5, 294, 5.4, West Memphis running back Kyle Payne, 6-0, 201, 4.5, Springdale outside linebacker-strong safety Zach Butler, 6-0, 210, 4.45, and several others are being targeted by the Hogs to walk on. Arkansas is also trying to find a way to get Little Rock Central linebacker Fred Fairchild, 6-3, 190, 4.6, on campus.

McCoy said Sunday his visit to Arkansas was a good one just as the one to Arizona was the previous week. He will trip to Texas A&M this weekend and then finish up at Notre Dame the following weekend.

"I want to take all my visits before I start narrowing it down," McCoy said. "Arkansas is still in the running."

Walker is at Ohio State this weekend and won't be home until later this afternoon. He has already been to Stanford as well. He has a midweek visit with Alabama coming up, will be at Notre Dame this weekend and then finish up at Arkansas on Jan. 30. Walker is considered one of the nation's top running backs.

Williams has been to Kansas State, TCU and Arkansas with Texas A&M his last visit this weekend. Williams is originally from Pine Bluff where he attended Watson Chapel High School. He would have a chance to compete for one of Arkansas' starting cornerback spots.

Winston visited Florida this weekend and will be at Arkansas this coming weekend. Earlier, he took a trip to Duke. He has a visit set to Stanford for the Jan. 30 weekend if he chooses to take it. Winston said Arkansas holds a slight edge over Florida. Mitchell is going to visit Florida State this coming weekend and then finish up at Clemson the following weekend. He said he enjoyed his visit to Arkansas this weekend.

"It was a lot better than I thought it would be," Mitchell said. "They had great food and really treated us good. I'm not a big basketball fan, but I liked the crowd's enthusiasm at the basketball game."

Bledsoe said Sunday night if he attends Arkansas he will play both defensive line, preferably end, as well as some tight end. He said Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma State are still the finalists for his signature.

"I like the idea of playing both ways," Bledsoe said. "If I sign with Arkansas, I'll just need to go up early and get in shape so I can play both ways."

Franks orally committed to Texas A&M early, but is now looking around. He has visited A&M, LSU and Oklahoma State. The trip to Fayetteville will be his final one. Marlin (Texas) High School's pair of defensive backs Matterial Richardson, 6-0, 185, 4.4, andD'Nerian Wrighter , 6-1, 205, 4.41, have yet to announce their decision though both have told the school they plan to attend of their commitment.


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