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SIGNING NOTEBOOK: Tassin among 18 UAM signees


MONTICELLO — Monticello native Ryan Tassin is one of 18 to sign with the Arkansas-Monticello football team on Wednesday.

“We are really excited to keep this guy,” UAM head coach Hud Jackson said during his press conference on Wednesday. “He has tremendous upside and has big body.

“He gets in the weight room and eats right.”

Tassin was a two-year starter on the offensive line for Monticello and was an all-conference honoree under head coach Greg Tiner.

“I think we have a tremendous supporter in Coach Tiner and I appreciate Tiner and his effort,” Jackson said. “I think (Tassin) is going to blossom into a good football player before he leaves UAM.”

Tassin’s father, Alan, played offensive line for the Boll Weevils in 1995.

The 2014 class features 10 from the state of Louisiana, six from Arkansas, three from Texas and one from Tennessee.

Three of the high school signees from Arkansas play defense.

Josh Pike, a linebacker from Little Rock Mills, led his team in tackles and sacks in 2013 and was all-conference in track.

Keyondre Jones, a cornerback from Camden Fairview, was all-conference in football and led his team to the second round of the 5A state playoffs.

Malik Clemons, a safety from Conway High School, registered 34 total tackles and two interceptions in 2013 under coach Clint Ashcraft.

“It is a very exciting time for Boll Weevils football,” Jackson said.

Also joining UAM is Hoxie native and defensive tackle Derek Johnson.

Johnson originally signed with Texas and eventually transfered to Arkansas State in 2010, where he played five games.

In four years of high school, he had 255 total tackles and 13 sacks.

WH’s Smith, Fordyce’s Stroud now Muleriders

Bobby Petrino considered landing a White Hall standout on his first Louisville team since 2006.

When Kaseem Smith scheduled his letter-of-intent ceremony, he wasn’t sure whether the Cardinals would extend a scholarship offer to him.

“I was waiting to see if I was going to hear back from Louisville or not,” Smith said. “I didn’t, so SAU (Southern Arkansas) became an easy decision.”

Smith signed with the Division II Muleriders on Wednesday afternoon, months after a record-setting year with the Bulldogs.

He said Louisville, which went 12-1 last season and beat Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl in December, did not recruit him until after Petrino was re-hired as the Cardinals’ coach. Petrino, the former Arkansas head man who coached Louisville from 2003-06, replaced current Texas coach Charlie Strong after spending a season at Western Kentucky.

Smith added Texas Christian showed interest, along with some programs in the Great American Conference, SAU’s league.

“I was excited just to have interest from Louisville,” Smith said. “I want to thank them for even looking at me.”

Smith set school records for most receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in a season at White Hall. He had 921 yards and 12 TD on 46 catches in 2013.

“He caught the deep ball a lot,” White Hall coach Mike Vaughn said. “Kaseem used his speed a lot. That made a big difference.”

Fordyce defensive end Josh Stroud also signed with SAU on Wednesday.

“I think they want to put him at outside linebacker,” Fordyce head coach Tim Rodgers said. “But first they want to put some weight on him.”

Stroud is currently 6-foot-1 and weighs about 185 pounds.

“He has to get a little bigger,” Rodgers said.

In 2013, Stroud recorded 73 tackles with eight tackles for loss and six sacks. He also had two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown. For his performance, Stroud was named first-team all-district.

Gragg narrows choices

This time next year, the focus will be on Pine Bluff tight end Will Gragg as he finalizes his college choice.

The junior has narrowed his decision down to five schools — Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Louisville. He announced the schools on his Twitter account Tuesday.

Gragg was offered a scholarship to Arkansas before his sophomore season and was offered by Alabama this past summer. Alabama coach Nick Saban paid a visit to Pine Bluff last week watching Gragg play basketball.

According to a Wednesday tweet on Gragg’s Twitter account, Oklahoma also has offered Gragg a scholarship.