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?
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
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
“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
“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
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?
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 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
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
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
Photo credit: Arkansasfight.com; Dominique Reed at Camden
Photo credit: landtheives.com; Dominique Reed with the Red