GARLAND, Texas -- ESPN 4-star junior offensive line prospect Markis Deal has the University of Arkansas coaches and a family member who's a rabid Razorback fan hoping he plays his college football in Fayetteville.
"Basically, my whole family on my mom's side lives in Arkansas, but my aunt and her family live in Bentonville," Deal said.
Deal, 6-6, 290 pounds, of Garland (Texas) Naaman Forest, has 21 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Colorado, Michigan State and others.
His aunt, Samantha Mosher, is very vocal about where she stands on his college choice.
"She's a big Arkansas fan," Deal said. "She really wants me to go there. She's been loving the school since she was a kid. She's always talking to me about it."
While Mosher and her husband Mike live in Bentonville, Deal also has another uncle and aunt, Jason and Sarah, living in the city, while his grandmother, Joan Casazza, lives in Bella Vista.
Samantha Mosher talks up the support the Hogs receive.
"She really talks about the atmosphere and how the great the student atmosphere is there and how much support they get at the games and how crazy it is because they're the only big school in Arkansas and you get all the love," Deal said.
ESPN also rates Deal as the No. 13 offensive tackle and the No. 156 overall prospect in the nation for the 2023 class.
Deal said he plans to attend Saturday's Arkansas-Texas A&M game in Arlington, Texas, and is looking to make his way to Fayetteville for a visit. He said he communicates with Coach Sam Pittman, offensive line coach Cody Kennedy and graduate assistant Ryan Yuracek.
"I talk to them a lot. They text me almost every day," Deal said. "We're planning to go to the game this weekend and going to visit the campus.
"They seem like great coaches and genuinely interested in me and my family. I can't wait to visit.
Deal, who has a 3.3 grade-point average, looking to major in political science or business. He comes from an athletic family. His father Michael Deal, who's the defensive line coach at Naaman Forest, played on the defensive and offensive line for Texas-El Paso in 1995-1998, while his mother Nicki played volleyball and basketball for the Miners. His older brother Devean Deal is a freshman defensive lineman at Tulane.
Michael Deal recalls Markis running sprints in El Paso at the age of 8 and 9 years old but quickly out growing the events.
"When I see him I still see the little kid that was one of the fastest kids in the city," said Michael Deal, who moved to the Dallas area along with his family three years ago. "He ran the 400 and 200 and 100 and all of sudden he just, 'Boom. Where did this grown man come from?' He grew out of being a running back and all of that stuff and now watching him becoming a man."
Naaman Forest Coach Jesse Perales saw the younger Deal's talent early on and is on par with some of the best he's coached.
"I've told Markis since day one, I've been fortunate to coach a couple of guys that made it to the NFL and I told him as long as he keeps working hard and does things right and stays coachable, he'll have an opportunity to play on Sundays and I believe that," Perales said. "That's one of his goals and he's going to work hard to attain that."
Deal recorded 4 tackles, a quarterback hurry and a pass deflection in a 40-14 victory over North Garland on Friday while also recording 16 pancake blocks on offense.
Deal, who recently visited Oklahoma for the Nebraska game, said he was impressed with the Hogs' 40-21 victory over Texas.
"That was a great game. You guys really handed it to them," Deal said. "That was solid offense and solid defense."
He also said he's aware of Pittman's history of producing top talent on the offensive line.
"He use to be an O-line coach, so he's big on that," Deal said. "So it seems like a great place to be for an O-lineman."
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