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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas football coach Chad Morris talks to reporters during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in North Little Rock. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

With the 2018 recruiting class all but complete, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Coach Chad Morris says he can turn more of his attention to building relationships with the state's high school programs.

Speaking at North Little Rock's Verizon Arena before Thursday's Signing Day in the Rock, the Razorbacks' first-year head football coach told members of the media that he plans to establish a rapport with the state's coaches "one handshake at a time."

"If they open a textbook in this state it will not matter if they have zero Division I athletes and never had one or if they've got 101 Division I athletes, we're going to have a logo in that school," Morris said. "We're going to make sure they understand we have an appreciation for them and what they do."

Morris spent 15 years as a high school head coach in Texas, earning a combined 169-38 record at 5 schools. Morris said he learned to tell when a college recruiter visiting one of his schools truly cared about getting to know who they were recruiting.

"It's all about relationships," Morris said. "The high school football coach in me comes out a little more. I didn't just want to see a school in-state only when I had a player that they wanted. I wanted to see them when we didn't have anybody because that means we can sit down. It's not just swing in and throw your [business] card down. 'Look, don't even bring your card. Don't waste your time putting your card down on my desk because I'm going to throw it in the trash.' That's just me as a high school coach. I want you to sit down and genuinely care about what my program is. That's what we do as a coaching staff."

Morris and his staff signed 16 recruits for the 2018 class, the lowest of any Southeastern Conference program. Already, the Razorbacks have designs to keep more Arkansas high school recruits from leaving the state.

Morris said the state has plenty of talent in the 2019 class.

"We've been in contact with several guys right here in Little Rock," Morris said. "We're extremely excited about the quality of players we've identified for the '19 class. This will be one of those years that we anticipate there could be a high number in our state and particularly in this city."

Morris said even before Thursday's event he could tell that central Arkansas had "so much passion" for the Razorbacks.

"People are so hungry. They're ready. They're excited," Morris said. "You've got to feel their passion and feel their love [for] the university and the Razorbacks. They want something to be so proud of. ... You love it and we want them to feel the ownership that they have because every person in this state that loves these Razorbacks is a part of why we get up and do what we do every day. And we're not going to let them down."


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Sports on 02/09/2018

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