By ROBBIE NEISWANGER
ARKANSAS NEWS BUREAU
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and his staff enjoyed their most productive recruiting weekend to date after three high school prospects made verbal commitments.
Miami (Fla.) Northwestern High safety De’Andre Coley, Newton (Texas) High cornerback D.J. Dean and Suncoast (Fla.) High defensive tackle Ke’Tyrus Marks announced their plans Sunday. All three took official visits to Arkansas’ campus over the weekend.
“You have to go to where you are going to be loved,” Marks told Hawgs Illustrated. “A lot of schools show you love, but the fans here take it to a whole new level. It doesn’t even compare. You get an opportunity to play before great fans and in a top conference and you just got to go with it.”
None of the prospects are highly regarded by major recruiting services, but they give the Razorbacks 11 verbal commitments less than two weeks before the Feb. 6 national signing day. Arkansas also signed five junior college prospects during the early period.
Dean (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) is rated as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale by Rivals.com and a two-star prospect by Scout.com. Marks (6-2, 285) is rated as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com. Coley (6-1, 185) is not rated by either Rivals.com or Scout.com.
The three commitments were among seven prospects on official visits last weekend. The group also included two other highly-touted prospects from South Florida in South Plantation High running back Alex Collins and Booker T. Washington High offensive lineman Denver Kirkland.
Collins is rated as a five-star prospect by Scout.com and four stars by Rivals.com, while Kirkland is rated as a four-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Collins, who is deciding between Arkansas, Miami, Florida, Wisconsin and Florida State, told Hawgs Illustrated after his visit he will announce his plans on Feb. 4.
“I came here hoping to see the school, hoping to see the players, hoping to sit down with the players and hoping to sit down with the coaches,” Collins told Hawgs Illustrated on Sunday. “I knew some of the coaches from Wisconsin so I already knew the coaches because they’ve been recruiting me for two years now. I kind of got what I was expecting.”
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas received its fourth commitment in two days when Ralston Valley (Colo.) High offensive lineman Dan Skipper made his decision Monday.
Skipper is the 12th verbal commitment for Arkansas’ 2013 class.
Five junior college players also have signed with the Razorbacks.
The 6-foot-10, 295-pound Skipper is rated as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale by Rivals.com and Scout.com. Skipper also was recruited by Tennessee, Michigan, Ole Miss and Ohio State. He made an official visit to Arkansas this month.
Skipper was recruited by both Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman when they were at Tennessee last season. He told Hawgs Illustrated on Monday his relationship with both coaches played a part in his decision to make a verbal commitment to the Razorbacks.
Skipper also became the third offensive lineman in Arkansas’ current 2013 class. The Razorbacks signed Butler County (Kansas) Community College guard John McClure earlier this winter and have a verbal commitment from three-star guard Reeve Koehler, a Honolulu, Hawaii, native.
All verbal commitments are non-binding. National signing day is Feb. 6.