Flip-flop was easy when Hogs called

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - JEREMY MUCK

The 15th in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

Joe T. Robin­son High School Coach Todd Eskola saw the po­ten­tial in David Porter early.

The Se­na­tors de­fen­sive end, now a Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville fresh­man, emerged as one of the state’s top de­fen­sive play­ers over the past two sea­sons. Eskola cred­ited Porter’s hard work and as­sis­tant coach Brian Maupin for his suc­cess.

“So many kids come in as ninth-graders and don’t re­al­ize their po­ten­tial,” Eskola said. “They want to be good, but they don’t know how good they can be if they’re pushed prop­erly. That’s one of the things coach Maupin does a great job of in the off­sea­son with the weight room, help­ing kids un­der­stand the po­ten­tial they don’t see in them­selves and where that ceil­ing is.

“Ev­ery kid thinks, ‘Well, I can be this good.’ Well, no, you can be a whole lot bet­ter than that. You’ve got to get over where your mind says stop and your body can keep go­ing.

“He [Porter] was one of those kids who you can see that could be re­ally, re­ally good.”

The Lit­tle Rock na­tive proved his coach right.

Porter, who flipped his com­mit­ment to Arkansas from Colorado State on Jan. 29, recorded 105 tack­les (68 unas­sisted), in­clud­ing 24 for a loss, and had 10 sacks for the Se­na­tors, who fin­ished 11-2 and ad­vanced to the Class 4A quar­ter­fi­nals in 2016. For his ef­forts, Porter was a first­team Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps se­lec­tion.

The fi­nal week of Jan­uary was a whirl­wind for Porter.

Porter, 6-3, 241 pounds, an­nounced his com­mit­ment to Colorado State, a Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence school in Fort Collins, Colo., on Jan. 25. But af­ter meet­ing with Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema on Jan. 28, Porter com­mit­ted to the Ra­zor­backs a day later.

“It was a sur­prise. I didn’t see it com­ing,” Porter said. “I don’t think many other peo­ple did, ei­ther.

“This is a no-brainer. I have to choose Arkansas. As soon as I got that of­fer, I switched up on the spot.”

Porter was a three-star prospect by Ri­vals and Scout. com. He was ranked as the na­tion’s No. 138 de­fen­sive end by Scout. CBS Sports Net­work’s Tom Lem­ming also had Porter as a three-star prospect.

Colorado State, which Porter said is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion, and Arkansas will play a home-and-home se­ries in 2018 and 2019. Those games are al­ready on Porter’s mind.

“I’m ready for it,” Porter said. “That’s go­ing to be real in­ter­est­ing.”

The Ra­zor­backs will have three for­mer Robin­son play­ers

on their ros­ter this fall: Porter, wide re­ceivers Koilan Jack­son and T.J. Ham­monds. Ham­monds ar­rived in Fayetteville last sea­son, and Porter and Jack­son came to Arkansas this sum­mer.

“It will be cool,” Porter said of be­ing on the same team as Ham­monds and Jack­son. “You’ve known th­ese guys be­fore they were in col­lege and now you’ll get to see how they progress and what they’ll be­come.”

Arkansas is switch­ing to a 3-4 de­fen­sive scheme this sea­son un­der first-year de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul Rhoads. Porter likes the move, say­ing it gives the de­fen­sive ends more re­spon­si­bil­ity and free­dom.

“I can put a lot of pres­sure on the quar­ter­back,” Porter said. “Even if I don’t make the sack, I’m go­ing to make the quar­ter­back hurry. I’m hard to block when it comes to run plays be­cause I’m quick with my hands and feet. I’ll al­ways keep the O-line guess­ing.”

Porter said he isn’t sure whether he’ll play this sea­son or red­shirt, but he’s con­fi­dent in what he can do for the Ra­zor­backs.

“I want to be one of the best D-ends to come through Arkansas, that’s for sure,” Porter said. “I want to help the team win some bowl games. Arkansas has the po­ten­tial. I want to be the best I can be and make a name for my­self.”

Eskola said he and his staff at­tempt to teach their play­ers they can do more than they think they can, and the play­ers push them­selves on and off the field. Those qual­i­ties, Eskola said, will serve Porter well at Arkansas.

“In the next four to five years, phys­i­cally, he’s go­ing to trans­form to where you won’t rec­og­nize him,” Eskola said.


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