JONESBORO -- Noah Gatlin stopped playing baseball his junior year at Jonesboro because of several nagging injuries, which is something he never experienced as an offensive lineman for the Hurricane.
The durable Gatlin started 34 of the 35 high school football games he played in, missing only one start because of an illness and not injury.
"It wasn't going to work out to where I could do both," Gatlin said. "There was too much stress on my body. I just focused on working out and playing football."
Gatlin signed a national letter of intent to play football for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville on Wednesday, a dream come true for the 6-7, 285-pound All-Arkansas Preps lineman.
"His size sticks out, but his athleticism can't go unnoticed," Jonesboro football Coach Randy Coleman said. "To Noah's core, he's a three-sport guy. Football, basketball and he played on a state championship baseball team as a sophomore. To be 6-7, 300 pounds and to be athletic enough to do all of those different movements that are required in all of those sports just says a lot about his athleticism."
Gatlin has dropped 15 pounds since the end of the football season. An increased amount of exercise during the past three months, Gatlin says, helped him slim down to his current weight.
Gatlin racked up many awards during his three years with the Hurricane. He was a member of the All-Arkansas Preps Sophomore Team in 2015 and a first-team All-Arkansas Preps left tackle in 2017.
Coleman says Gatlin has the two main ingredients to be a success at the next level.
"Does he love it? Yes," Coleman said. "And is he nasty? Yes. He's one of those you have to pull back on a little ... you have to try to keep him from playing through the whistle. But you like to see that. It's something you can be happy about."
"I might be a little bit [nasty]," Gatlin said. "But it's all a part of football. Emotions are a part of the game, but whatever happens on the field stays on the field."
Despite wanting to be a part of the Razorbacks program since childhood, Gatlin said the decision to sign with Arkansas was not an easy one.
"I grew up watching Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis on TV, and I was like, 'Man, I want to wear that Razorback on the side of my helmet,' " he said. "Knowing that's going to happen is a dream come true.
"It may have sounded [like an easy decision], but I had some great relationships with some other [schools'] coaches. It was really tough telling them that's what I wanted to do."
Gatlin was one of four Hurricane football players to sign national letters of intent Wednesday. Defensive end Jacarvis Anderson (Northwest Mississippi Community College), quarterback Tyson Williams (Arkansas Tech University) and kicker Collin Crawford (Arkansas State University) all joined in on Wednesday's celebration. Crawford, who enters ASU on an academic scholarship, will be listed as a walk-on.
Sports on 02/08/2018
Print Headline: New Hog Gatlin cleared his plate