Recruiting Guy

What stands out among Arkansas’ signing class

The University of Arkansas signed 16 high school athletes to national football letters of intent Wednesday and with each signature comes different talents and personalities.

Here are a few thoughts on some of the future Razorbacks:

Most motivated to succeed: Defensive end Kavion Henderson is not only playing for himself but for his grandmother Rhonda Henderson and late grandfather Clifford Henderson, who raised him since he was six months old.

His grandfather, who died on Nov. 6, 2015, shared his love of football with his grandson, which fed Kavion's desire to play the game.

Henderson, 6-2, 253 pounds, of Leeds, Ala., turned down Alabama and Auburn along with about 40 other scholarship offers to be a Hog. He plans to honor his grandfather by wearing No. 6, the day of the month of his passing.

His main goal is getting to the NFL in order to give his beloved grandmother a better life.

Most likely to lead: Coaches like for quarterbacks to lead and KJ Jackson is fully capable.

Jackson, 6-4, 222, of Montgomery (Ala.) St. James, exhibits all the traits of a leader: Confidence, likability and passion. He has ability earn his peers' respect and is committed to excellence. Those qualities led him to being named team captain at St. James as a junior and a senior.

Jack-of-all-trades: Ahkhari Johnson, 5-11, 179, is an outstanding athlete who played quarterback at Texarkana (Texas) Pleasant Grove and completed 58% of his passes for 3,884 yards and 53 touchdowns the past two seasons while leading the Hawks to a 23-4 record.

He also rushed for 1,713 yards and 30 touchdowns. While he's expected to play defensive back at Arkansas, he was recruited to play running back by Texas Tech and Nebraska, Stanford wanted him at receiver. Other schools offered him as a safety and a cornerback, while Arkansas State and Texas-San Antonio recruited him to play quarterback.

Few, if any prospects can say they've been recruited to play six different positions. Should things not work out at defensive back, Johnson could see action elsewhere for the Hogs.

Most underrated: Harding Academy linebacker Wyatt Simmons is an obvious choice to me.

The 6-1 and 213-pounder has elite suddenness and closing speed while also being very physical at the point of contact.

He was under the radar until his highlight film was sent out to schools in the spring and suddenly 20 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Miami, Florida State and Auburn came his way during a 13-day period in May.

Clemson, Southern Cal and Tennessee extended offers during the summer. Despite his pledge to the Hogs on Aug. 19, Texas, Florida State and Auburn still reached out in hopes of changing his mind.

A consensus 3-star prospect, Simmons is easily worthy of 4-star status.

Most likely to live in an opponent's backfield: Defensive lineman Charleston Collins made it a habit of recording tackles for losses in high school.

Collins, 6-5, 261 of Mills, had 239 tackles his last two seasons and 77 were for loss. So basically one of every three tackles he recorded resulted in a loss.

While it's highly unlikely he'll duplicate those numbers in college, there's a good chance he'll get his share of tackles for losses during his time in Fayetteville.

Most likely to wear a cowboy hat on campus: Offensive lineman Zuri Madison, 6-5, 315, of Lexington (Ky.) Douglass, stands out in a crowd with his size alone. But he's also fond of wearing his black cowboy hat.

He showed off his hat during his photo shoot while at his official visit to Arkansas in June. The outgoing Madison said wearing his hat shows his uniqueness "and it complements his personality."

Most likely to host a sports radio show after football: Receiver CJ Brown, 6-1, 180, of Bentonville, fits the bill of a talk show host.

Being a Razorback and possibly an NFL career along with his charismatic personality could put him in good position to host his own show in the future. Simply put, he's a smart guy with excellent communication skills.

His loyalty and steadfastness to the Hogs during a tough season will also be fondly remembered by residents of the state, which will open opportunities once his playing days are over.

Will forever be remembered: Dion Stutts, who died in June from an ATV accident, committed to the Hogs in March as a defensive lineman. Proud of his nickname "Big Country," Stutts loved nothing more than being on his family's ranch.

The fun-loving Stutts was a classic case of just being himself, nothing more which was a humble, down-to-earth young man unfazed by the notoriety and attention that being a high profile recruit brings.

He was respectful, considerate and always willing to interact with reporters seeking information about his recruitment. Getting to know young men like Dion is what makes this job so enjoyable.

Email Richard Davenport at

  photo  Kavion Henderson
  photo  Dion Stutts

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