Bahn: Regardless Of Rankings, Latest Razorback Commitment A Big One For Petrino

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 10:00 am  

Could Ray Buchanan Jr. be Bobby Petrino's most significant commitment at Arkansas? Chris Bahn explains why he is. (Photo by Jamie Newberg, ESPN)

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Members of Bobby Petrino’s first class have no doubt been invaluable to the building process at Arkansas. Guys like Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Tyler Wilson will have a meal or cold drink waiting on them as "thank yous" from fans for years after they exhaust their eligibility (and not a minute sooner, of course).

Still, those guys might not be the most valuable commitment to date for Petrino.

Cornerback Darius Winston was a five-star prospect when he committed to Arkansas as part of what would become the Razorbacks’ 2009 recruiting class. Winston, who had his pick of schools across the country, remains the only five-star Petrino has landed straight out of high school.

LSU couldn’t sway Junction City’s Byran Jones from Arkansas in 2010. D.D. Jones flipped on Michigan at the last minute to sign with the Razorbacks. Both of those guys were four-star prospects coveted by many, as were 2011 signees like cornerback Tevin Mitchel and offensive lineman Brey Cook.

Taking all of those guys into consideration, there's an argument to be made that Petrino’s biggest high school commitment has yet to hit campus. (Ryan Mallett, as good as he was, transferred in from Michigan, so he doesn’t count in this conversation. Mallett's coming to Arkansas was a turning point, no doubt.)

In fact, the most notable player to agree to play for Petrino has a commitment that isn’t even binding until February. And he's "just" a three-star.

Yet Ray Buchanan Jr., 59th-best cornerback in the country, is arguably the biggest get of Petrino’s career.

Think about it.

Buchanan’s father, Ray Sr., is a former college star and NFL Pro Bowl player. Specifically, Ray Buchanan Sr. played for the Louisville Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons.

Petrino coached both places. He left both. Neither departure was regarded as particularly graceful. The way Petrino exited sparked some criticism, and critics torched Petrino’s reputation.

Buchanan was out of the league by the time Petrino got to the Falcons. But Buchanan, who played at Louisville from 1989-92, still lives in the Atlanta area. He does broadcast work. He had friends and acquaintances in the locker room during Petrino’s 13 games with the Falcons. Buchanan is still “Big Play Ray” in Louisville.

Translation: Buchanan has access to plenty of people who could have tainted his opinion of Petrino.



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