Arkansas' new head coach Bret Bielema has quite the track record when it comes to recruiting and developing players. Will he learn to recruit the SEC way and sway talents like Altee Tenpenny?
Well, Hog fans, we got him. The new Head Hog, the man who's name we've waited eight long months to hear, we finally got him. Coach Bret Beleema? Biamolly? Bielamadingdong? Fortunately for you readers, this is not Drive Time Sports and I am not Randy Rainwater, Bret Bielema is our guy and he's looking to bring Arkansas fans "something [we've] never had."
Well, I like the sound of that. Here at Arkansas, we've never had an SEC Championship, or a win over Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, or a BCS Championship.
Are these things on the horizon? Who knows. But now we bid farewell to at least much of the current staff and look to a future that, for now, appears to shine vibrantly. After crushing the press conference, it's time for Bielema to get settled and hit the recruiting trail to bring in his first class. In the meantime, we will sit and anxiously await signing day, and then spring ball.
First thing's first, however, and over the last few days he has reached out via phone to Hog recruits everywhere from Pulaski Academy's Hunter Henry and North Little Rock's Altee Tenpenny to California JUCO commit Carroll Washington.
Although Bielema is reaching out to current commits, he still plans to bring his own methods to Fayetteville.
"We put priority on recruiting along the offensive and defensive lines." the new coach said during a phone interview on Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly yesterday. "It's like building a house- you don't start building on the second level."
That ought to be music to our ears, Hog fans. For far too long, our O-lines have struggled to protect our quarterbacks and open holes for our runners. Our D-line always takes time to develop, but imagine what this guy will do with Chris Smith and Trey Flowers and our stacked group of defensive ends that redshirted last year. Gets your juices flowing, huh? Me too, both of these guys are athletic enough to be JJ Watt and look for them to benefit from the new staff next year.
Bielema also mentioned a little something about being disciplined and "never beating ourselves before the snap." HELLO? (Herm Edwards' voice) How many Jason Peacock false starts and illegal freaking formations have been called on us the passed two years? Too many.
Well, hopefully all that will fade into the past, along with John L "SMILE" jokes, Gruden rumors, and just God awful cover songs. It all starts now with recruiting season, Bielema is about to get real into this whole SEC way of recruiting, the one he said the Big 10 would never want to emulate, but it's cool because he's no longer associated with the Big 10. I've done some research on his seven years at Wisconsin, and have come up with some exciting facts.
In seven years, Coach Bielema has recruited nine players that went on to be voted onto some All-American team. Names like Gabe Carimi (Outland award winner, first round pick by the Bears in 2011) John Moffitt (Outland award finalist, 3rd round pick by the Seahawks in 2011) Lance Kendricks (Mackey award finalist, 2nd round pick by the Rams in 2011) Kevin Zeitler (Outland award finalist, 1st round pick by the Bengals in 2012) Peter Konz (3rd round pick by the Falcons in 2012) and Montee Ball (Heisman finalist, All-time NCAA touchdowns record holder, Doak Walker award winner) have found their way on to at least one All-American team. Basically, if you haven't heard or noticed, the guy likes gigantic, powerful lineman who can pave the way for record breaking, Heisman hopeful running backs.
FLORIDA AND TEXAS
Though he plucked most of those corn fed studs from the fields of the great midwest, the man showed a sizeable recruiting presence of his own in the state of Florida. According to Rivals, 22 Floridians signed with Wisconsin during his time as the Badgers' head coach, many from South Florida, where he found skill players to complement the behemoth linemen from the north. Associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator Charles Partridge is the man behind the Sunshine State following, and he could possibly be on his way to Fayetteville as well.
Many are concerned about recruiting Texas, though Bielema has gotten seven Texans in seven years to Wisconsin. Houston Dale Nutt and Bobby Petrino corralled 41 Texas recruits to the Hill in that same time frame. However, Coach Bielema has the personality to be a more talented recruiter (more balanced, at least) and now that he's closer to the Lone Star State, look for the Razorbacks' presence in Texas to loom larger than in recent years. Of couse, he has yet to hire his new staff, but we'd expect at least one coach with Texas connections to be a part of it. This season, three of the Badgers' four defensive backs were Texas recruits and, according to Bielema, were three of the teams' best players.
"There are so many five star players who never see the field and zero star players who are All-Americans. It's all about evaluating." Bielema told Bo Mattingly yesterday. After four years in Bielema's system, lower-rated athletes (lineman in particular) are prepared for the NFL. Gabe Carimi was a three star guy who gained 60 lbs, won the Outland Trophy and went on to start on the Chicago Bears offensive line. He's not the only one. Since the 2007 draft, the first after Bielema's first season as head coach, he had 22 players drafted despite never having a top-25 recruiting class. Of the 22, 12 went in the first three rounds and 10 of the 12 were O-lineman, tight ends, or D-lineman.
You may have heard of a few of them, outside of Carimi, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin from NC State, and possible defensive MVP and Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt was a tightend when he began his career as a Badger. Atlana's Peter Konz, Seattle's John Moffitt, Cincinnatti's Kevin Zeitler, and St. Louis' Lance Kendriucks are all Bielema products who have seen substantial playing time this year.
A new era has begun here in Hog Nation, we got the recruiter with the defensive background most of you were screaming for, and in the process got ourselves a home run hire. It'll be interesting to see what this first group of new Hogs looks like, and I'm just as anxious as you are to see first hand. Though he ran a power offense in Madison, he plans on evaluating the talent at Arkansas and building the offense to suit them. However, don't be surprised if you see an increase in runs and size on the offensive front, a welcome change by all, I imagine. I'll be glued to Twitter and keeping you all up to date on the Boss Hog's latest recruiting moves. It's here Hog fans, a new day in the world of Arkansas football. Stay tuned.