THE RECRUITING GUY : Wingos enjoy visit from Horton
Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton made an impression on highly regarded running back Ronnie Wingo Jr. and his family during an in-home visit Thursday night.
"Ronnie was smiling the whole time that he was here," Ronnie Wingo Sr. said. "[Horton] had the whole house happy. The house was full of smiles. It just seemed like we've been knowing him all of our lives."
Wingo, 6-3, 211, 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash, rushed 234 times for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 379 yards and 5 touchdowns this season for St. Louis University High School. He also has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 in San Antonio.
The Wingos entertained Kansas Coach Mark Mangino on Tuesday night and Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel on Wednesday night, but Horton's visit appeared to make the biggest impact.
"Coach Horton is such a people person," Wingo Sr. said. "He was excited when he came into the house. He got my little son's attention. They were running around the house. My wife and kids just enjoyed his visit. He's a special coach. It seems like he has a personal relationship with his players, and I think that's very important."
Wingo said he would feel comfortable sending his son to Arkansas should he decide to become a Razorback.
"When a kid goes away from home, he can call his parents, but having a person like [Horton] you can call up or go over to his house or go to the coaches' office, he seems like he's in good hands," Wingo said.
Horton's history with Arkansas as a player and a coach didn't go unnoticed.
"He knows Arkansas football," Wingo said. "He knows everything about it. I think they have a good man that can answer all of the questions you might have. That's big for a program."
Horton's emphasis on education caught the attention of Wingo and his wife, too.
"Coach Horton said if you come to Arkansas and don't get your degree, that's not a success story," Wingo said. "His goal is for you to come to Arkansas and get your degree, and then you're a success story."
Wingo Jr. and his family made an official visit to Missouri over the weekend and will travel to Kansas this weekend. He is scheduled to take an official visit to Arkansas on Jan. 9-11. Trips to Alabama and Illinois are also possibilities.
Horton told the Wingos how interested Arkansas fans are in their son.
"He said when he travels all over Arkansas, people ask how close they are to signing Ronnie Wingo," he said.
KICKER IMPRESSED WITH UA
Kicker Andrew Ritter, 6-4, 205, of Jackson Academy in Mississippi made an official visit to Arkansas over the weekend.
"I was really impressed," Ritter said. "All around Fayetteville it's just gorgeous with the mountains and everything. The facilities were just unbelievable, and the campus was great. They have one of the best business schools in the nation. I think it's ranked 24th in the nation.
"My parents liked that a lot, and I did too."
Ritter said he spent more time with Coach Bobby Petrino than expected.
"Coach Petrino came to dinner [Friday night] and we had breakfast with him the next morning," Ritter said. "I actually saw him on Saturday while I was touring everything. Then Sunday morning we had breakfast with him, and after that we went back to the stadium to the coaches' office and me and my parents had a meeting with him."
Ritter has offers from Arkansas, Army, Northwestern (La.) State and Southern Miss and is drawing interest from Ole Miss, LSU and Alabama. He plans to take an official visit to Southern Miss on Jan. 9-11 and to Ole Miss on Jan. 16-18.
"I definitely want to weigh my options," he said. "I don't know how long that will take. As of now, I plan on taking my other visits just to make sure, but that could change. I could make up my mind before then, but I'm not sure."
QB CATCHES PETRINO'S EYE
Midlothian, Texas, quarterback Bryce Petty, 6-3, 215, 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash, shipped a highlight video overnight to Arkansas on Friday, and it didn't take long for a response.
Petty said offensive line coach Mike Summers traveled to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to look at 2010 prospects Monday and he received a call to go see Petty.
"He said Coach Petrino called him on his cell phone almost immediately after he landed and said he had been looking at my film all morning and he loved it," Petty said.
Petty said Arkansas wants to set up an official visit in January.
Petty, who lived in Cabot until moving in the spring of his ninth-grade year, orally committed to Tennessee in June after an impressive showing at the Volunteers camp, but the resignation of Phil Fulmer and the hiring of Coach Lane Kiffin has Petty looking at his options.
He has offers from Baylor and Nebraska and is receiving interest from Oklahoma, SMU, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Colorado.
Scout Randy Rogers, who is based out of Austin, Texas, and has more than 50 major colleges as clients, has little doubt Petty is an SEC caliber quarterback. He saw Petty and other top quarterbacks during a Nike football camp last spring and said Petty stood out when campers faced a sudden change of wind.
"He was one of about three guys that showed no drop-off in velocity in throwing into the wind, which tells you that you have to have a pretty tight spiral and you have to have some velocity," said Rogers, who coached 29 years on the college and high school levels, including serving as the recruiting coordinator at Illinois and Texas. "There were a number of other kids that are getting Division I scholarships and really struggled at that point in their junior year with how well they could throw into the wind."