Andy Hodges

New day, new way for state’s high school coaches

Chad Morris is bringing a new way of doing things in recruiting and that’s good news for Arkansas high school football coaches, who have access and a coach that cares.

Everybody knows by now new Arkansas coach Chad Morris started as a high school coach.

They knew it before he got to Fayetteville.

That’s why Greenwood’s Rick Jones and Fayetteville’s Billy Dawson was there when he was introduced Thursday.

“I’m fired up to have Chad here,” said Jones.

“It’s nice for us to see one of our high school guys make it to where he’s at now,” Dawson said.

Those two have won championships and are widely respected in the high school coaches fraternity across the state. You can bet the message has been sent to other coaches.

Morris is one of their own.

“You’re always welcome here,” Morris said during his opening remarks.

That is not something the coaches have always felt. All too often they felt like outsiders with the state’s biggest — and most visible — university.

Previous coaches may have said something in passing about the high school coaches, but if they welcomed them with open arms publicly I’m not aware of it.

“We’re going to lock arms together with you to make sure we all benefit, and we’re going to see this program rise to the top,” Morris said. “This is your university. We want to make your life better. We want to make your job better. We need you. I need you.”

Can you imagine those words spilling out of Bobby Petrino or Bret Bielema’s mouth?

“We’ll see every high school in this great state,” Morris said. “When [Arkansas’ coaches] walk into your office, you make sure to get something from them. Ask them what their best third-and-6 play is. Ask them what their best pressure is against short yardage. Ask them what their best movement is.

“Get something out of these coaches, because there’s far more than just about walking in and putting a card down and saying, ‘Who do you got?’ You may not have anybody and you may not have a player that comes out of your school and hadn’t came out in eight to 10 years. That doesn’t matter, because you will one day.”

Morris wants to make it personal in Arkansas. He wants these coaches to develop players that WANT to be Razorbacks.

That was one of the keys to success Frank Broyles used. His key to reaching the high school coaches across Arkansas was first Wilson Matthews, then Harold Horton. Those two probably knew every coach in the state.

And those coaches developed Razorbacks.

Very, very few players ever left the state to go elsewhere. Oh, there were a few here and there. You can never keep every single one of them every year.

“It’s fun to have somebody in our state that’s a great resource, that’s as smart as Chad and his staff are and that we can drive 60 minutes up here to talk instead of having to go to Atlanta or Auburn like we have in the past trying to learn stuff,” Jones said. “It’s great to have it right here.”

Morris gets it when it comes to recruiting. The sport within the sport of college football is something Morris understands and apparently has a game plan to accomplish.

We are just starting to see it get rolling.

And it’s something we’re guessing is going to be a fine-oiled machine in a couple of years. Stop all that whining about, “well we’re Arkansas and we’re never going to be able to get good players.”

Morris said it in his first meeting with the players and I’m betting it has a broad implementation.

“I hear people say why,” Morris said, “and I say why not?”

Putting the hammer down doesn’t just apply to how Morris’ offense works. You get the idea everything associated with Razorback football is going to move at warp speed compared to the previous pace.

Especially in recruiting.

And it’s a pleasant change of pace.

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