Hope for the future coming via Hogs’ 2015 recruiting class

By EFN Staff
Published: 02/23/2015

What Razorback Nation started to understand early in the 2014 season was a notion that slowly started to creep out to the SEC West, the SEC East, and then the rest of college football – a movement is underway at Arkansas.

Second year Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema weathered the storm from a disastrous 2013 season posting a record of 3-9 to turning the ship around and gaining wild momentum to a 7-6 season in 2014.

The 7-6 record may not inspire later generations or random college football fans to take notice of what transpired in 2014 by the diehard Arkansas fans know better. The Hogs took then No. 6 Texas A&M to overtime before losing 35-28 on a neutral site at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the following game was a heartbreaking one point loss to No. 7 Alabama 14-13, three games later the Hogs again tested the metal of the perceived best of the best scaring No. 1 Mississippi State in a 17-10 loss. Three games after the MSU game, again Arkansas made another stand before falling to No. 17 Missouri on the road 21-14.

The frustrating part of the whole ordeal is the Hogs had second half and in some cases fourth quarter leads before watching a victory slip away. With what amounts to a handful of needed plays away from a potential 11-2 season the focal point has shifted from what could have been to what are the missing pieces that can help get the Hogs over that hump into rarefied college football air? Maybe a better passing game?

Another Arkansas movement took place eight years ago under another new head coach in Bobby Petrino. The Hogs put together back-to-back stud recruiting classes paving the way for future 10 and 11-win seasons.

In 2008 the talent coming out of the state of Arkansas was nothing short of amazing. Players like Greenwood quarterback Tyler Wilson, Central Arkansas Christian wide receiver Joe Adams, running back Dennis Johnson, fellow Warren wide receivers Jarius Wright and Greg Childs along with wide receiver turned tight end Chris Gragg. In all 15 Arkansans were signed that year.

The following year more talent was added from bordering states including Fort Bend Marshall running back Knile Davis (Texas), Kingwood center Travis Swanson (Texas), Texarkana wide receiver Cobi Hamilton (Texas), Broken Arrow offensive lineman Alvin Bailey (Oklahoma), Muskogee defensive tackle Robert Thomas (Oklahoma), and in-state 5-star cornerback Darius Winston.

A similar trend is reoccurring for the Hogs now. The 2015 recruiting class had a heavy Arkansas flavor with Bielema and staff landing 10 of 11 in-state targets while picking up a talented preferred walk-on in cornerback Byron Keaton (Camden). Among the recruits headed to Fayetteville from in-state commitments include Charleston quarterback Ty Storey, Conway offensive lineman Colton Jackson, Dumas tight end Will Gragg, Fayetteville tight end C.J. O’Grady, Fayetteville safety/outside linebacker Dre Greenlaw, Fort Smith Northside defensive end Daytrieon Dean, and Junction City defensive end Jamario Bell.

One thing that made the 2008 class so great was the amount of talent coming out of Warren and Camden, Arkansas. What the Hogs have lacked over the last three to four years have been playmakers in the passing attack. One could argue that since Greg Childs injury during his junior season in 2010 Arkansas has not had a true red zone threat at the wide receiver position. One could also argue that since Cobi Hamilton left the Hogs in 2012 for the NFL, Arkansas has not had a true threat on the outside in the passing game… until now.

On National Signing Day 2015 Arkansas inked three wide receivers with in-state ties, Nashville’s La’Michael Pettway, Highland’s Deon Stewart, and Coffeyville Community College’s Dominique Reed, a former Camden Fairview standout.

Of the three wide receivers Reed may have the most hype around him coming into the 2015 season. The 6’4”, 185 pound, speedster has all of the same attributes of Greg Childs but might have a little more gas in the tank in the open field. Reed reports a 40-yard dash time in the 4.3 range.

Could Reed be the answer for the Hogs taking that next step to a truly balanced offense?

In an Elite Sports Network exclusive interview Dominique Reed sat down to answer questions about his high school and junior college career, calling the Hogs on NSD, and a look towards getting on the field as an Arkansas Razorback.

Dominique, how did you go from Camden Fairview to Coffeyville?

“One of my coaches had ties to Coffeyville helping me end up there. I actually wanted to go out of state. I was going to go to a school in Texas but that coach left and I went to another school so that’s how Coffeyville came together. One of my cousins Catorey Robinson (defensive tackle – Fairview) also went there.”

You had another cousin end up there as well right? Derek Keaton (RB/WR)?

“Derek was there in 2013 before heading off to Georgia Southern. He signed with Arkansas State out of high school (2012, Camden Fairview).”

How did your senior season go at Camden Fairview?

“We went to the state championship our junior year but we came up short against Greenwood. My senior year we played Greenwood again in the playoffs but lost in the semifinals.”

Did you receive any honors during your high school career?

“During both my junior and senior years I was All-State and All-Conference at wide receiver.”

Did you have any offers coming out of high school?

“I had looks but I had troubles in the classroom that kept me out. Arkansas, Arkansas State, Kansas, and Auburn were all showing interest in me then.”

You put up some great numbers at Coffeyville earning Second-Team All-Jayhawk Conference honors. What type of stats did you rack up during your freshman and sophomore seasons?

“And I was an honorable mention All-American and won a team offensive MVP award (laughing).

“In 2012 I had something like 46 receptions for 813 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games. I sat out the 2013 season but came back in the spring. In 2014 I had 61 receptions, 1,157 yards receiving, and 19 TDs in 11 games.”

What are your strengths on the field at the wide receiver position?

“My speed, my height, the way I can control my body, and my route running. I’m also a strong blocker down field.”

What are some of your favorite routes to run?

“I like the post and the fade the most but I’m not afraid to go across the middle. I don’t fear running any routes.”

Which schools gave you offers during your final season at Coffeyville?

Arkansas, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Auburn, Bowling Green, Central Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oklahoma, South Florida, Southern Miss, and Texas all offered me.”

You had official visits set for five schools, Arkansas (Nov. 14), Arkansas State (Nov. 29), Oklahoma (Jan. 16), Texas (Jan. 23), and Auburn (Jan. 30) but ended up narrowing down your choices. Where did you take your official visits?

“I switched a couple. I never went to Oklahoma or Arkansas State but I did go to Arkansas, Texas, Auburn, and Arizona State.”

Did you have your choices narrowed down to two schools heading towards National Signing Day?

Arkansas and Arizona State were my top two.”

What did you like about ASU?

“At ASU the area is unbelievable. The coaches, the school, the weather – I liked everything there. I could see me enjoying my time out there.”

What made you pick Arkansas?

“I visited Arkansas while in high school. I went to a couple of games then. I’ve always liked the fans and the people in Arkansas. Another tip towards Arkansas is my family being from Arkansas. It’s going to be so awesome to play in your home state so your family and friends can come watch you play.”

Was there anything else that made you excited about coming to Arkansas to play for the Hogs over the next couple of years?

“When I went to the Arkansas vs. LSU game, I noticed the whole SEC likes to play man-to-man. Arkansas does not have that deep threat in the passing game. They have the running game, the offensive line, and the quarterback but they don’t have that deep threat. I felt like I could come in and be that guy to help out the offense.”

When you committed to Arkansas who did you commit to?

“I committed to Coach (Michael) Smith and Coach (Bret) Bielema.”

What were their reactions to your commitment?

“They were happy and excited. They’re excited to have me join the program and said they can’t wait to get me on campus, stuff like that.”

How did you feel at that moment when you verbally committed?

“I was really excited. It felt really good. My Twitter page was blowing up. My phone would not stop ringing. Everything was non-stop Arkansas then.”

What are you doing now to prepare yourself to play for the Hogs in 2015?

“I’m working out with Coach (Angelo) Mirando (offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach). When they go run routes, I run with them.”

You have two classes that you have to clear before you can head to Fayetteville, what are the two classes?

“Math and English.”

How are the classes going?

“They’re going well. I’m doing well in all my classes. Coach keeps telling me to stay on my classes. The Arkansas coaches keep texting me making sure I stay on my classroom work too.”

Is there an NFL player that you think most resembles your play on the field?

“Some people say I play like A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals) but I think I play like Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys). He has great speed, he’s physical, and no corner can hold him one-on-one. I think I can win any one-on-one situation. Bryant will make the big play, that’s how I feel as well.”

What’s your favorite part about playing football?

“The competition – I like to compete. I like running past defenders.”

In 2014 wide receiver Keon Hatcher led all Arkansas receivers with 43 catches, 558 yards receiving, and six touchdowns. No. 2 and No. 3 on the receiving list were tight ends Hunter Henry (Little Rock) and A.J. Derby. Derby is off to the NFL but Henry returns for his junior season.

Now imagine a lineup that features Hatcher and Reed on the outside and Henry roaming the middle creating mismatches on linebackers because the safeties now have to worry about both Hatcher and Reed. Defensive coverages start opening up in the passing game with multiple threats across the field. The by-product is more opportunities for the Razorbacks to win games with the deep ball in single coverage.

Another benefit is no longer seeing eight defenders in the box freeing up more space for an already highly effective running game. The Hogs may truly run wild next season with Reed commanding attention on the outside.

Putting the weight of the Arkansas Razorback passing game in 2015 on squarely on Reed’s capable shoulders is unfair. Deon Stewart and La’Michael Pettway along with true sophomore Jared Cornelius and redshirt freshman JoJo Robinson should help add some excitement to the Hogs passing attack. But one thing can be counted upon with Reed, a true deep threat that can take a short pass 80 yards to the house is coming to Fayetteville in 2015!

Photo credit:; Dominique Reed at Camden Fairview
Photo credit:; Dominique Reed with the Red Ravens