Some notes from today

Dave Van Horn and Nate Thompson met with the media for the first time since Thompson was hired two weeks ago. We’ll have more coming, but here are some notes:

Thompson’s first 12 days included recruiting stops in Wichita, Chicago, Dallas, Waco and Stillwater.

Van Horn initiated contact with him the night following Missouri State’s loss to TCU. He said he texted Keith Guttin late that night and told him he wanted to talk with Thompson, and Guttin called the next morning to give his blessing.

Van Horn said all of the drafted players who have not signed yet will be at Arkansas next season. We’ve reported on Knight, Bonnin, Turney and Bolden, but this also includes Opitz and Kjerstad, who were late-round picks.

Lucas Krull and Brendan Heiss are transferring to junior colleges, along with Jaxon Williams. Krull might play JUCO football in addition to baseball.

Thompson said the 2015 super regional was the best atmosphere he has ever experienced and that he hoped to get a call from Van Horn when Tony Vitello took the Tennessee job.

I’m told that signees Evan Hooper (Cabot), Austin Kelly (Bryant) and Dylan Bonds (Mount Juliet, Tenn.) will go to junior college next season. There might be one more signee from the November class who doesn’t make it to Arkansas.

Matt, did you get the same impression that DVH was walking a little bit on egg shells when he texted Missouri State’s coach instead of calling him. He kind of smiled when saying that like maybe all of the events of the regional plus his interest in Thompson might not be a welcomed call …

I don’t think so. Dave is pretty forward and he said he detailed in his text what he wanted to talk with Guttin about. I think he probably texted so as not to wake Guttin or give him the opportunity to respond on his own time.

I know everyone has this perception of Guttin, but he and Van Horn are friendly with each other.

Matt: Could the Hog coaches have “helped” these signees in their decision to attend junior college (instead of the U of A)? Could these players have been squeezed off the 35-man roster had they stayed in view of all of the players coming back?

I’m not sure of how it went down. My guess is none of those three players were on much, if any scholarship.

Typically, Van Horn talks to the players about what is in their best interest for playing time. If a player doesn’t stand a good chance to play, he might take the JUCO route, especially if the tuition is coming out of his family’s pocket.

Is Turney the only OF? I’m assuming the guy that may not come is Soularie.

I haven’t heard anything definitive on Soularie or McClain, but both can play outfield. Kjerstad, who definitely is coming, also can play in the outfield.

Sammy Blair, R-FR plays OF. He was always CF, but that won’t happen. He is the speedy kid who tore up his ACL playing WR for Navasota (TX) early in his Senior year in high school. We watched him play a time or two in fall ball and he was in no way ready to compete for a spot. He was also rooming with Jaxon Williams, if I am not mistaken.

I will be interested to see if he can compete for a spot this fall after a year of rehab.

Alerick Soularie announced today that he is going to junior college. This should bring the Razorbacks’ signing class to these 13:

Caleb Bolden RHP

Bryce Bonnin RHP/SS

Heston Kjerstad OF

Casey Martin INF

Benjamin McClain OF

Hunter Milligan LHP

Easton Murrell INF

Jacob Nesbit INF

Casey Opitz C/INF

Kole Ramage RHP

Jackson Rutledge RHP

Cole Turney OF

Zebulon Vermillion RHP

Dave Van Horn has told me many times that he does not want players to sit on the bench. Young players need to play. And, if they aren’t going to play as a first-year player at Arkansas, they should go to junior college. It is often much cheaper for them to go that route than to redshirt at Arkansas. As Matt said, I’m guessing that hardly any of those players on that list were going to be on much of a scholarship at Arkansas, if any. Some were probably going to get some academic aid, but no athletic scholarship, yet they signed. That’s the way it works in college baseball.

So they can go to a junior college and not go in debt, or come to Arkansas, walk-on and pay $15,000 and probably have the start of some heavy student loans. It’s not easy in big-time college baseball for the families of these players.

So you over sign each year knowing that you are probably going to lose a lot of players to the draft, both high school/junior college and the players who could return. When Shaddy, Bonfield and Knight all decided to come back (or were not drafted), then it does reduce the roster spots and the scholarship money somewhat. I’m guessing that a pitcher like Knight has quite a bit of scholarship money. That might have been money freed up had he signed. Bonfield has scholarship money. I’m sure Van Horn thought he’d have that in his pocket to spend this year, although he’s glad to give it to Luke one more year.

I am guessing that you are talking about team captains next year in Grant Koch, Blaine Knight, Carson Shaddy and Luke Bonfield. That’s a good place to start with building a good SEC club.