ESPN 4-star junior linebacker Raul Aguirre recently spoke with University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman, and that carries a lot of weight with him.
Aguirre said Pittman was impressed after watching film of Aguirre recording 17 tackles and having a pass breakup in a big 39-35 victory over Griffin, Ga., in a Class 5A matchup on Oct. 1
"It was big. He was telling me how much he wants me and how good of a player he thinks I am," Aguirre said. "I had a nice game this past two weekends and he saw it. He tells me I fit his program and to have a head coach tell me that is very big to me."
Aguirre, 6-2, 212 pounds, of Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Ga., has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State and others.
As a sophomore, Aguirre attended Locust Grove (Ga.) Cedar Grove where Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith led the Saints to state championships in 2016 and 2018 before leaving for Georgia State in 2019 and Fayetteville the following season.
Aguirre, who has known Smith since his eighth-grade season, said Smith reminds him of a past conversation they've had.
"I remember one time he told me he's going to need me at Cedar Grove and now to see him at a university, looking back and telling me, 'Remember I told you that? I now need you over here,' " Aguirre said. "For you to know a coach that long and him still keep up with you and still want you, that's very exciting."
ESPN also rates Aguirre the No. 5 inside linebacker and the No. 161 overall prospect in the nation for the 2023 class.
He along with about 20-plus former Cedar Grove teammates, including running back commitment Rashod Dubinion, visited Arkansas on June 14 for a camp.
Interaction with Smith, other coaches and some of the Razorback players were highlights of the June trip to Fayetteville, Aguirre said.
"I like the atmosphere and all that," he said. "Coach Jimmy showing us a good time. Just being able to have a great time. Being at the camp and dominating at the camp, it was just very exciting."
An excellent student, Aguirre is considering majoring in sports science with hopes of staying involved in football after his playing days are over. He recently spoke with his father about visiting Arkansas again.
"For sure I'm going to be down there for a game, of course, just don't know when," Aguirre said.
He also communicates with Arkansas linebackers coach Michael Scherer.
"I speak to him when I can," Aguirre said. "Whenever we speak, it's all love."
THURMAN TO UNC
Little Rock Christian's Romani Thurman, the daughter of former University of Arkansas basketball great Scotty Thurman, orally committed to play volleyball for North Carolina on Sunday.
A junior, Thurman picked the Tar Heels over scholarship offers from Arkansas, North Carolina State, Kansas State, Louisville, and others.
She took official visits to Arkansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Louisville and Kansas State.
"Going into the process, I knew my priority was the cultural of the volleyball program as well as the culture of the school as a whole," said Thurman, who has a 4.0 grade point average. "And after taking all five of my official visits, I truly saw the North Carolina culture just from academics and from athletics is amazing. I've kind of known that since I was young just growing up around athletics and seeing how Tar Heel fans are and how much of a family they are, so just being there in person and taking my visit and seeing that firsthand really, really influenced my decision."
Thurman, 6-0, played for Little Rock-based 16-under Elite Volleyball Academy during the spring and summer. She's been named to several lists, including Prep Volleyball 2023 top 175 and the American Volleyball Coaches Association 2023 Phenom List.
Her approach vertical jump has been recorded at 34 inches and her touch has been measured at 10 feet, 4 inches which places her in Prep Volleyball's 10 Foot Club, which the site describes "It remains a magic number in volleyball today. If you can jump and touch the basketball rim, or higher, you are in rare air."
Thurman participated in the prestigious Under Armour All-American Selection Camp in Las Vegas and also attend the USA National Training Development Program in Anaheim, Calif., in July.
Thurman, who's considering pre-med for dermatology or communication for sports broadcasting as potential college majors, said she is appreciative of her father and mother, Regina, who's a physician, traveling the nation to support and watch her play.
"When my parents finally knew I had a chance to be a high level player, they were fully supportive," Thurman said. "I'm super blessed to have them be able to travel with me."
Email Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org