Otis Kirk's Recruiting 360: Arkansas Will Entertain a Host of Football Recruits This Weekend With Few Slots Left

by Otis Kirk, HawgSports.com Recruiting Analyst  on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 1:08 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Arkansas will host over two dozen recruits this weekend with prospects from all around the nation slated to be on the Fayetteville campus.

One less-familiar name among the recruits visiting is St. Augustine (Fla.) fullback Tarek Odom (5-foot-10, 254 pounds, 4.9 in the 40-yard dash). Odom is also considering Florida State, Arkansas State, Florida International and Eastern Michigan. Arkansas' Kris Cinkovich is the lead recruiter on Odom.

"I played defensive tackle most of the year, but played a lot of fullback in the playoffs," Odom said. "Arkansas is recruiting me to play fullback. Arkansas said they will determine while I'm there if they plan to offer me or not. Coach Cink, I like him a lot. He's a nice guy. It goes really well when I talk to him and I'm very interested in Arkansas."

St. Aug went to the fourth round of the state playoffs before being eliminated.

"I feel I had a good season," Odom said. "As I said, I did play more defensive tackle, but I did well in the playoffs at fullback."

Since he has limited experience at fullback, Odom said that shouldn't hurt him if he goes to a school like Arkansas or FSU where they want him to play fullback.

"We had a couple of screen passes to the fullback in our offense, but I was used mainly to block and run the football," Odom said. "I feel I'm a good blocker and I'm very hard to bring down when running with the ball."

Odom observed Arkansas' 10-3 season and also watched the Sugar Bowl that saw the Razorbacks lose a heartbreaking 31-26 decision to Ohio State. Arkansas blocked a punt late in the game, but failed to capitalize on it and the Buckeyes held on to win the game.

"I thought Arkansas had the game won," Odom said of the blocked punt. I was impressed with Arkansas' season. I thought they were going to run it in when they blocked the punt, but they didn't. Still, I thought they had it won, but it didn't work out for them."

This weekend's visit won't be the first trip to Fayetteville for Odom.

"I went to a football camp there a few years ago," Odom said.

While Odom is unlike many out-of-state recruits visiting who have never been to Fayetteville, Odom will be looking at a few different aspects of Arkansas' program.

"I will be looking at how the academics there can help me with what I want to major in," Odom said. "Also, how I would fit in with the players there."

While some recruits from the Sunshine State that Arkansas has been on in the past have opted to attend schools closer to home, Odom says the distance to Arkansas isn't a factor with him at all.

"I have a friend who has family in Arkansas so I would have someone there," Odom said. "The distance to a school isn't a problem with me at all. I just want to go where I would fit in and feel comfortable and staying close to home isn't important to me."

*  *  *

Arkansas lost three tight ends off this past year's team so that position is getting some attention during this recruiting season.

The Razorbacks have commitments from Fayetteville's Demetrius Dean (6-3, 245, 4.7) and Hurst (Texas) L.D. Bell's Chris Barnett (6-6, 245, 4.5) are both slated to play tight end for the Razorbacks and both are expected to sign on Feb. 2. In addition, Arkansas is expected to pick up a verbal pledge from Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic tight end Jack Tabb (6-4, 240, 4.75) on Friday. In addition, Seagoville (Texas) tight end Andrew Peterson (6-6, 265, 4.8) will be on campus this weekend for an official visit.

Tabb is down to Arkansas, North Carolina and Iowa, but it would be a shocker if he ended up at any school other than Arkansas. His mother is originally from Lamar and her father still lives in the state.

"I want to play tight end," Tabb, who also is a talented defensive end, said. "My mom is a Razorback fan."

Tabb and his mom attended a high school all-star game a few years ago in Reynolds Razorback Stadium and were impressed with the facilities and what Arkansas had to offer. In addition, Tabb visited Arkansas during the Dec. 10 weekend and was once again impressed with everything about the Razorbacks.

Peterson is good friends with hoops signee Devonta Abron, who also is from Seagoville. Peterson has visited Texas A&M and Utah while Arkansas will be his third visit. Oregon, Miami and Nebraska are fighting to get one of his two final visits if he opts to take them. Peterson is only a 2-star recruit on Rivals.com and wasn't highly recruited at all a few weeks ago, but sent out a highlight tape and now everyone in the country is trying get his attention.

"I knew I would be recruited," Peterson said. "I always knew I could play and I would sign with someone, but I was a little surprised when this many schools started offering me kind of all at once."

Peterson and Tabb have both expressed how impressed they were that Arkansas' D.J. Williams won the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end each season. Williams excelled as both a receiver and blocker in Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's high-powered offense.

"They use the tight end well," Peterson said. "It's impressive that Williams won that award. I love to block, but I also like to get touches. Arkansas allows you to showcase all your skills as a tight end."

Barnett is a 4-star recruit and is considered one of the prize catches for Petrino and his staff in this class.

"I feel my size and speed combination makes it tough for a defense to cover me," Barnett said. "If they try to cover me with a linebacker then my speed hurts them. If they cover me with a defensive back, then my size works to my advantage. I think I can and expect to help Arkansas immediately."

The only negative for Barnett is he had knee surgery for an ACL injury and won't be back and ready for contact again until about the time the Razorbacks report in the fall. Regardless of that, Barnett is a big-time talent and absolute worse-case scenario is he redshirts and then has four seasons after that though most expect Barnett to play immediately.

*  *  *

When Petrino came to Arkansas, the defensive line was very thin and not up to SEC standards.

In three years, Petrino and his staff have built the line into possibly the strength of the defense. On Wednesday, Lake Butler (Fla.) Union County defensive lineman Lonnie Gosha (6-3, 270, 4.8) cast his lot with the Razorbacks. The 4-star chose Arkansas over Miami. Earlier in the process, Gosha had committed to Florida State over Georgia and Alabama as well as Miami and Arkansas. However, Gosha opted to decommit to the Seminoles and they filled up at his spot as did the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs. Arkansas brought Gosha in for an official visit on Oct. 30 when they played host to Vanderbilt and he was impressed.

"I was impressed with the coaches, players, facilities and everything about Arkansas," Gosha said. "I loved the weight room and stadium."

Gosha isn't the only defensive lineman in this class either. Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College's Robert Thomas (6-2, 330, 4.93) signed with the Razorbacks in December and plans to start classes on Tuesday. Nowata (Okla.) two-way lineman Austin Beck (6-8, 300, 5.2) also can play defense, but could be on offense. Beck also starts classes at the UA on Tuesday.

Expected to sign on Feb. 2 are Lufkin (Texas) defensive end Darrell Kelly-Thomas (6-4, 225, 4.65), Monroe (La.) Neville defensive tackle Demarcus Hodge (6-1, 300, 5.0) and Malvern's Grady Ollison (6-4, 273, 4.9).

In addition, among the recruits slated to be at Arkansas this weekend is 4-star defensive tackle Mickey Johnson (6-1, 310, 4.9) of Covington, La., and then next weekend Shreveport (La.) Evangel 4-star defensive end Jermauria Rasco (6-4, 250, 4.6) will visit. Johnson is down to Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee while Rasco has Florida State, LSU, Alabama, Florida and the Razorbacks on his list of finalists. Covington will visit Tennessee on Jan. 21 weekend and then announce on Jan. 28. Rasco hasn't set a date for his announcement, but could take it down to the end or close to National Signing Day. Florida State may be the team to beat for Rasco, though LSU reportedly also likes its chances.

Otis Kirk has covered Arkansas recruiting for more than three decades. His regular reports and premium insider information can be found at Hawgsports.com, a member of the Rivals.com recruiting network.



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