Ver­sa­tile Wren to take un­of­fi­cial visit to UA

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - DUD­LEY E. DAWSON Dud­ley E. Dawson can be reached at ddaw­

Arkansas hav­ing lim­ited schol­ar­ships for the 2018 foot­ball re­cruit­ing class has led to some tough eval­u­a­tions and num­ber-crunch­ing.

But clearly, the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville — with 11 ver­bal com­mitt­ments for what could be as few as 15 avail­able spots — is look­ing to add an out­side line­backer be­fore the class is fin­ished.

It ap­pears one of top tar­gets at that po­si­tion is Mesquite (Texas) Horn stand­out Mau­resse Wren (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), whose stock soared this spring when coaches got to see him prac­tice. The ver­sa­tile Wren has plans to visit the Ra­zor­backs be­gin­ning Mon­day.

Wren is an out­stand­ing wide re­ceiver, but adding out­side line­backer to his re­sume this spring ex­cited col­lege coaches, ac­cord­ing to Horn head coach Mike Over­ton.

“He had been a re­ceiver for us and had played vir­tu­ally no de­fense,” Over­ton said. “This spring, we wanted to ex­per­i­ment with him play­ing some more de­fense. When col­leges came in this spring and saw this big, ath­letic body play­ing out­side line­backer, they fell in love and thought this could be the per­fect match.

“Peo­ple saw that and are pro­ject­ing him at line­backer be­cause he is a big, ath­letic guy that can run, and his re­cruit­ment just ex­ploded.”

Arkansas of­fered a schol­ar­ship to Wren in June, join­ing a list of 20 along with Ari­zona, Bay­lor, Colorado, Mis­souri, Pur­due, Texas Tech, Utah and Wash­ing­ton.

“I think Arkansas has a great shot at him,” Over­ton said. “He has a great deal of in­ter­est in Arkansas, and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what hap­pens when he gets there on his un­of­fi­cial.

“He has had a lot of great things to say about Arkansas, the con­tacts that he has had with coaches and that has been real pos­i­tive. I talked to his dad yes­ter­day about this very thing. He is pretty pos­i­tive about Arkansas as well. I would say that Arkansas has as good a shot as any­body.”

Over­ton ex­pects Horn to have a great sea­son.

“For us, we ex­pect to be a play­off team and he should be our lead­ing re­ceiver,” Over­ton said. “He is a great re­ceiver and what we hope for him de­fen­sively is that he is go­ing to cre­ate some big plays for us, es­pe­cially rush­ing the passer and us­ing his ath­leti­cism in cov­er­age. He un­der­stands be­cause he has been a re­ceiver how im­por­tant it is be­ing in the right spots in zone cov­er­age and I think all those things are pos­i­tive.

“We are look­ing at him play­ing a qual­ity 25 to 30 snaps a game on de­fense this sea­sone and still be our best re­ceiver. Last year we had him just go in there and rush the passer on a few plays and he had three sacks.”

Ob­vi­ously, Wren’s early of­fers came as a wide re­ceiver. Then, more of­fers poured in af­ter he was seen play­ing out­side line­backer.

“I think it is about 50-50,” Over­ton said. “Every­body would say both. His of­fers started as a re­ceiver, but some of the big­ger schools have now come in and like him as a re­ceiver, but like him more as an out­side line­backer and see a big­ger up­side.”

Wren had said he wanted to an­nounce his de­ci­sion on Sept. 27, but it ap­pears it could be sooner.

“That is one of the things that I talked about with his dad,” Over­ton said. “That is kind of what he wants to do, but it wouldn’t sur­prise me if he makes the de­ci­sion a lit­tle ear­lier. I wouldn’t be shocked. There is not go­ing to be any pres­sure on him and he needs to make the de­ci­sion when he is sure, but again, it would not shock me if it comes sooner and he makes one right be­fore our sea­son be­gins.”

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