FAYETTEVILLE--On a night when new Razorback head football coach Bret Bielema announced his first staff hire three Razorback committments were being honored along with their teammates for Fayetteville High's second straight 7-A state championship in football.
Purple Dogs linebacker Brooks Ellis, the defensive player of the year in the state, found out about former Wisconsin defensive coordinator Chris Ash joining Bielema's staff right before he arrived at the Fayetteville Town Center for the festivities. The hiring of Ash meant one thing in particular to Ellis. The defense Bielema ran at Wisconsin will not change at Arkansas.
"He (Bielema) told me that he funnels the running backs toward the linebackers," Ellis said with a smile spreading across his face. "The linebackers have a lot of tackles so I'm pretty excited about that."
Safety Alex Brignoni doesn't know a lot about Ash who also coaches defensive backs but he told the Razorback Nation, "I'm sure coach Bielema made a good choice. I know that Wisconsin had a really physical defense with lots of unusual schemes and I'm really excited to be a part of something like that."
The state of Arkansas' offensive player of the year, Quarterback Austin Allen, will have to wait a bit longer to see who the Hogs' offensive coordinator will be along with his own position coach but he likes what he's heard from Bielema about the offense he will employ.
"He likes to have the pass set up the run," Allen explained, "so I'm okay with his offensive philosophy. It's kind of what we did in high school. Maybe we had a little bit more passing but it's a lot of play action, bootleg and all that. I'm accustomed to it so I'll be ready for it."
The first order of business when the three met with Bielema was to see if their commitments to the previous coaching staff would be honored. There was no problem with that. The head Hog then explained to each how they would fit in as players at Arkansas. He then outlined some of his recruiting plans before national signing day in February.
"He said he was looking for talented players but smart players as well," Brignoni revealed. "I'm sure he's going to bring in guys who can help us win big."
"He seemed to be very confident in who he can get," Ellis observed. "He has a wide range of regions where he has recruiting ties. Sounds like he'll go anywhere to recruit. I'm pretty excited about that."
"He can connect with a recruit," Allen stressed. "He'll talk football but also ask you about things away from football. He gets you to relax, very easy to talk to. I'm sure he's going to bring in a lot of big time recruits to Arkansas."
Razorback fans hope the Fayetteville three will enjoy as much success on the college level as they did in high school.