Print and Go Back On The Trail: Midlands Region [Print without images]

Monday, February 17, 2014
Early Offer: The battle to land Gragg

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: ESPN Junior 300 tight end Will Gragg's (Pine Bluff, Ark./Pine Bluff) recruitment could be key in how Arkansas is viewed by prospects on the recruiting trail; and Sunday's NBA All-Star Game brought back memories of the best high school football player I ever saw.

Key recruit for Hogs

Pine Bluff, Ark., tight end Will Gragg picked up offers from Texas and Florida State over the weekend and is well on his way to having more than 20 scholarship offers. Gragg, the nation’s No. 2 tight end and No. 125-ranked prospect overall, will be one of the most fascinating battles to watch in the 2015 class.

Gragg’s brother, Chris Gragg, was a prolific receiving tight end for Arkansas, and the pressure is on Bret Bielema to keep the ESPN Junior 300 prospect at home. Never mind that tight end isn’t a huge position of need for the Razorbacks in the 2015 class. The fact of the matter is that Bielema has to land Gragg.

It’s one of those situations where perception is more than reality. If Arkansas misses out on Gragg, Hogs fans will be vocal in their criticism of Bielema’s recruiting ability, especially after star in-state 2014 defensive tackle Joshua Frazier signed with SEC foe Alabama. And you can certainly count on Razorbacks fans overlooking that Hunter Henry was the best freshman tight end in the SEC in 2013 and Gragg would have to compete for playing time against him.

It’s an extremely tough situation for Bielema and Co. If they land Gragg, the Razorbacks likely won’t get the credit their staff deserves because, well, his brother went there and he’s an in-state prospect. If they don’t land him, look out. But keep an eye on his recruitment because it could end up being a real barometer on how elite prospects view the Arkansas program.

Iverson would have been a star

Watching the NBA All-Star Game Sunday brought back memories of one of the first recruiting features I wrote while in college. The feature was on some guy named Allen Iverson at Bethel (Va.) High School, and he was the Division AAA Virginia state player of the year his senior season after passing for more than 1,400 yards, rushing for 800 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns. To this day, he is still the best high school football player I’ve ever seen. Before there was a Michael Vick and a Vince Young, there was Allen Iverson. Like he was on the basketball court, Iverson was an entertainer on the gridiron. He made the right decision to play basketball, but looking at some of his high school football highlights again reinforced my theory that he would have been an incredible football player, too. If you haven’t seen the YouTube highlights, take a few minutes and do so. You’ll thank me later.