Flip-flop was easy when Hogs called
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.