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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas nose guard Junior Soli sacks Ole Miss quarterback Josh Nelson during a game Saturday, Oct. 4, 1995, in Memphis, Tenn. - Photo by Rick McFarland

The Arkansas Razorbacks signed a young nose guard named Junior Soli in 1992 out of Georgia, and the Hogs are looking to ink his son 27 years later.

The elder Soli made All-SEC in 1995 while helping the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville make the SEC Championship Game against Florida. He ranks 10th in Arkansas history for tackles for losses in a season with 16.

His son, defensive end Mataio Soli, 6-3, 227 pounds, of Douglasville (Ga.) Douglas County has about 30 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Florida, Oregon, Stanford, Virginia, Vanderbilt and others.

Junior Soli said his son's recruiting process brings back memories from the time he was being pursued by schools.

"All this stuff reminds me and gives the opportunity to reminisce about my recruiting process and how much the recruiting process has changed with social media and all this other stuff," Junior Soli said. "If I remember right, when I was being recruited back then they didn't have regulations on contact. We didn't have cellphones at the time, so my home phone use to get blown up."

Razorbacks tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. and defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell are recruiting the younger Soli.

"Me and Lunney came in the same class," Junior Soli said. "He was the one as a true freshman that got more playing time than I did."

Lunney told Junior Soli the Hogs were offering his son on Feb. 22. Soli's wife, Karen, who is from Sparkman and is a graduate of Arkansas, was thrilled.

"My wife was excited," Junior Soli said. "She's an alumni, and so is the whole side of her family."

He and his son will visit Fayetteville on April 2.

"I'm just excited to see everything because we've been there before but not as far as the football aspect," Mataio Soli said. "I've had family that graduated. When I was little, we use to come up there all the time for different graduations."

The younger Soli made a habit of being in the opponents' backfield last season with 18 sacks and 20 tackles for loss that included 77 total tackles. Mataio Soli said there's no doubt where his parents' loyalty lie.

"My mom and dad are 'woo pig sooie' all the way," he said. "They had us growing up watching. It's cool now because it was like a dream back then. I was like, 'Man, I could do this, too' and now I have the opportunity to play there right in front of me."

Mataio Soli said his father is never short on stories about his playing days as a Razorback.

"He always talks about his teammates and his friends and the experiences they had," he said. "Most of the time he talks about his interception that he had at Auburn and playing in the SEC Championship Game."

His parents stress education, and the younger Soli has a 3.6 grade-point average. He's still deciding between broadcasting and financing as a major.

He plans to narrow his list to five schools at the end of the school year, then take official visits to those schools. Mataio Soli admits having family in the Natural State helps the Hogs.

"It does because I would have family and a support system around me," he said.

Email Richard Davenport at

Sports on 03/25/2018

Print Headline: DE's family ties benefit Razorbacks

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