The Class of 2014 features talent at the top in the state of Arkansas, particularly on the defensive line. After crossing the Natural State to get a good look at many of the top-tier prospects in person, here’s a breakdown of each prospect seen on the trip.
Jarvis Cooper, DE/LB/DT, West Memphis (Ark.)
Date- Feb. 13, 2012 at West Memphis High School.
Recruiting Notes- Cooper holds offers from Memphis and Arkansas State and a verbal offer from the previous Arkansas staff. Ole Miss also is showing interest. Cooper grew up a Razorbacks fan and loved his experience at an Arkansas camp this past summer, so chances are if the new staff, which he just started communicating more frequently with, firms up an offer, he will stay in-state. It is expected, though, as word travels about the 6-foot-2, 253-pound four-star prospect, that he will have a longer list of offers provided nothing unforeseen happens. “That is the top conference, the SEC,” Cooper said. “It’s my home state and it’s in the SEC and we can play those big ESPN games and get noticed. It’s not really that far away and I can come home just about any time I want to.” Cooper attended the Memphis Junior Day on Feb. 2 and says he hopes to make unofficial visits to Auburn, Alabama and back to Arkansas.
Scouting Report- Cooper has the frame to be a defensive end or even grow into a defensive tackle (where he played most of his junior season of high school) given his size and athleticism. He’s a tenacious pass rusher with a knack for the big play (29 tackles for loss in 2013) and has a blue collar work ethic. Legitimately, he could be an end in a 4-3, an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or grow into a defensive tackle and not miss a beat. He also has been mentioned as a possibility at fullback by some programs. It’s not going to be a surprise at all to see Cooper’s offer list expand considerably once programs come by and eyeball him during the spring evaluation period. Cooper also is the type of prospect that celebrates his versatility. “I do not care where I play as long as I could play in college,” he said.
Josh Frazier, DT, Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber
Date- Feb. 14, 2012 at Har-Ber High School
Recruiting Notes- Arkansas and Alabama are seen as the frontrunners at this early stage with USC now in the mix after the Trojans offered earlier this month. Frazier says that his mom favors the Razorbacks thanks in large part to new head coach Bret Bielema and his staff’s personal approach to recruiting. “It’s going to be important for a school to want me for me,” he said. “My mom wants me to go to Arkansas because the new staff there is all about building a personal relationship and they don’t just blow smoke and tell you you are the greatest player ever.” Frazier made an unofficial visit to Arkansas on Feb. 2 and enjoyed his time there. Alabama, plus Florida and Georgia (both showing attention) are a good fit for a nose tackle because of their use of three-man fronts and even Frazier admits that those defensive schemes would be better fits. That being said, the most important factor in his decision, outside of academics, is going to be the relationship he has with the coaching staff that is recruiting him. He plans to visit Alabama for the Tide’s A-Day game and 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year for the 2013 cycle Mike Groh is his lead Crimson Tide recruiter. He also hopes to visit USC officially. Auburn also has offered and he has a good relationship with that staff, along with Arkansas State. Texas A&M and Florida State are showing interest.
Scouting Report- The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Frazier is an outstanding athlete. He can dunk a basketball 50 percent of the time he tries and had a confirmed 4.9 second pro agility shuttle at the Under Armour All-American Combine. He projects a little better as a nose tackle in a 3-4 and admits he’s always played there, but he certainly is skilled enough and has a high enough ceiling to play a three technique in a 4-3 alignment. Frazier is a definite riser in the next 247Sports prospect rankings update for the 2014 cycle and could be in the discussion for a five-star rating.
Isaac Johnson, OT, Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber
Date- Feb. 14, 2012 at Har-Ber High School
Recruiting Notes- Johnson attended the Memphis Junior Day on Feb. 2 and is getting attention from Arkansas, Missouri, LSU and others with no offers yet. The Razorbacks were his childhood favorite and he said that getting an offer from Arkansas would be “the greatest feeling in the world” and added that his mother would be happy with him staying home in Northwest Arkansas for college.
Scouting Report- Johnson’s coaches feel he has a tremendous amount of upside given his 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame. On film as a junior, he displays excellent flexibility and tenacity. As he improves his strength, chances are he can be a good BCS-level offensive tackle prospect.
Jake Hall, DE, Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber
Date- Feb. 14, 2012 at Har-Ber High School
Recruiting Notes- The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Hall is getting attention from a number of programs, but still is waiting on his first offer. He recently attended the Memphis Junior Day (and said he came away impressed) and took unofficial visits to Arkansas, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State during the football season. The Razorbacks could very well emerge as the team to beat should they step in and offer the versatile defensive trenchman.
Scouting Report- Hall is what you call a jumbo athlete. He has outstanding size and moves well for it. On film, he shows the ability to slide inside and make plays as well as make plays from the edge. His first wave of scholarship offers could be just around the corner as coaches continue to learn more about him. The long-armed prospect has good strength, too, as he has a bench press max of 260 pounds.
Juan Day, RB, North Little Rock (Ark.)Date- Feb. 15, 2012 at North Little Rock High School.
Recruiting Notes- Day was offered by and committed to Arkansas on Jan. 7. He was impressed with the new Razorbacks coaching staff. “I grew up liking the Razorbacks, but then I saw what type of staff (new Arkansas head coach) Bret Bielema put together and I saw how that offense is. It’s kind of what my running style is,” Day said. Day, the cousin of former Razorbacks running back Cedric Cobbs, is firm in his commitment, but plans on attending junior days at Auburn (March 7) and Georgia Tech (March 8). Ole Miss also is showing interest. The Tigers have a connection to Day through a former Arkansas assistant now on the AU staff. “(Horton) still keeps in touch,” Day said. “Right now, I am pretty solid, but I have a great relationship with (Horton), so if there is any school that could change my mind it would be them.”
Scouting Report- Day is an upright, physical runner that uses his quickness and strength to break tackles. If running back does not work out, he has the frame (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) to play strong safety or grow into an outside linebacker. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry and rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in 2012, sharing carries with 2013 Alabama signee Altee Tenpenny.
Kavin Alexander, CB, North Little Rock (Ark.)
Date- Feb. 15, 2012 at North Little Rock High School.
Recruiting Notes- Alexander is getting serious interest from Georgia Tech and went to the LSU junior day this past weekend. He also plans to visit Auburn for its junior day on March 7.
Scouting Report- Alexander, pound-for-pound, is a great high school football player that can be a team’s jack-of-all-trades type. He is excellent in kick coverage and in the return game and has superior athleticism (he once posted a 42.7-inch vertical leap). As cornerback film on him circulates, expect interest to increase.
Bijhon Jackson, DT, El Dorado (Ark.)
Date- Feb. 15, 2012 at El Dorado High School.
Recruiting Notes- Jackson committed to Arkansas on Dec. 20 and was the first pledge of the Bielema era. The 6-foot-2, 330-pounder has become an unofficial recruiter of sorts, building a friendship with Frazier and others. He grew up a Razorbacks fan, said the decision to commit to Arkansas was a “no brainer” and also praised the recruiting style of the new Hogs' coaching staff.
Scouting Report- Jackson moves quite well for a player his size and like Frazier, carries his weight exceptionally well. After seeing him in person and combining that with what he can do on film and how athletic he is, chances are he jumps in the next update of the 2014 247Sports prospect rankings.
JC Shurburtt is the National Recruiting Director for 247Sports. Follow him on Twitter @jcshurburtt
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