Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss a defensive line target and update the latest on an issue with satellite camps in Louisiana.
Academics, social aspects a high priority for Arkansas target Nicholas Fulwider
Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) defensive lineman Nicholas Fulwider knows what he’s looking for at the next level. The 2018 recruit with more than 30 offers is making some additional trips to a few of his top choices, Arkansas included, this month. He plans to settle on a final choice shortly after the upcoming visits.
Fulwider (6-foot-7, 245 pounds) is a 3-star recruit according to 247Sports composite ratings. He recently told SEC Country specifically what he is looking for above all else. Here are the three keys areas and how they help or hurt the Razorbacks’ chances.
A lot of recruits in each cycle will say going somewhere they can receive a good education is one of their top priorities. But saying academics is important can at times be just an easy line to use that reflects well in an interview. It’s pretty clear Fulwider sincerely means it.
So, is that a good sign for the Razorbacks? Well, to be completely honest, probably not based on his other top choices. All of the others in his top six — Georgia Tech, Indiana, North Carolina, Rutgers and Vanderbilt — are considered superior academic institutions to Arkansas. The U.S. News and World Report rates Arkansas No. 135 among national universities. The five competitors are all in the top 100.
Fulwider is especially attracted to the possibility of pursuing an engineering degree. That would give a strong edge to him staying close to home at Georgia Tech.
Basically, if it comes down to academics above all else, the Razorbacks are likely out of luck.
Here’s where it gets good for Arkansas’ chances. There isn’t a better football fan base among Fulwider’s top choices than the Hogs, and it really isn’t close.
Indiana and North Carolina have long been basketball schools. Though UNC has had some competitive teams in recent years, the fall at those schools is still mostly for counting down the days until hoops season begins. Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt are buried on the sports scene in big cities and certainly not known for having a rabid fan base. There’s more passion for football at Rutgers than many probably think (averaged 85 percent capacity at home games in 2016), but it’s not Arkansas where an entire state obsession of all things Razorbacks.
I always say fans have more of an impact than people think. It clearly means something to Fulwider and that’s to Arkansas’ advantage.
Fulwider wants to go somewhere he can become part of a network that can help him for the rest of his life. He can probably do that at any of his top choices. I’m sure all of those schools provide such an opportunity in their own way.
This isn’t a part of his decision-making process that will hurt Arkansas, though. The future possibilities at Fulwider’s other top choices are likely better than at Arkansas for the average student. But for an athlete, it’s different. A football career at Arkansas can endear a player to the state and much of the alumni base forever. Successful Razorbacks athletes are among the most popular figures in the Natural State.
As an example, let’s use the recent retirement of running back Rawleigh Williams III, who decided to end his career because of neck injuries. Not long after, he received an internship opportunity with the Dallas Cowboys. Why? Because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was an Arkansas football player in the 1960s and has remained a prominent booster for many years. Jones knew Williams’ story and gave him a new opportunity.
It helps to have alumni in prominent places. Arkansas has enough of that to impress Fulwider.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron doesn’t believe he’s hurt exposure of Louisiana recruits with satellite camp decisions
LSU successfully kept competing out-of-state programs from taking part in satellite camps within Louisiana this summer.
There aren’t many opposing coaches going on record and saying that’s what happened (really just Hal Mumme), but it’s obvious. As most of the stories go, LSU used it’s clout to pressure in-state schools into canceling agreements with the likes of Arkansas, Michigan, Texas and others. And Tigers coach Ed Orgeron hasn’t said anything to dispel the stories. If anything, he’s made it more obvious that’s exactly the case.
The push to close the Louisiana borders for camps left many who were pushed out wondering: What about the Louisiana recruits LSU isn’t offering? Aren’t they hurt by not getting exposure to other top programs at satellite camps? Orgeron responded to such claims Monday at SEC Media Days.
“Guys are not going uncovered nowadays,” Orgeron said. “If there’s a guy on the country road, my GPS will get me there if he’s good enough. So, as far as opportunity, there’s a lot of opportunity given to these young men during those six weeks of evaluation.”
Orgeron is referring to the six-week evaluation period which began in April and lasted through May this year. His point is there’s no stopping any program from coming into Louisiana high schools during that period, so why let them in again for a camp if you don’t have to?
Arkansas is probably effected by this as much as any school in the country. The Hogs have relied heavily on recruiting Louisiana in recent years, specifically the players LSU is overlooking. There are very few, if any, head-to-head battles between the SEC West rivals on the recruiting trail each cycle. Arkansas wants as many looks as possible at the kids with SEC talent whom the Tigers aren’t offering, and there are plenty of those.
It’s obviously unfortunate for the Razorbacks as it sounds like they won’t be getting into a Louisiana camp anytime soon. But, as one source close to the program recently told me, “It doesn’t matter, we’re going to go down there and get them anyways.”
Miss a previous edition? Find every SEC Country daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook right here.