The University of Arkansas' recruitment of ESPN 4-star prospect Myles Rowser separated the Razorbacks from others and led the coveted safety to pledge to the Hogs on Sunday.
Rowser, 6-1, 185 pounds, of Belleville, Mich., picked Arkansas over scholarship offers from Michigan, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Penn State and numerous others.
The Hogs offered him Jan. 26 and hosted him and his parents for a virtual visit Feb. 6. He announced a top four of Arkansas, Alabama, Michigan State and Kentucky on March 8.
Arkansas' focus on academics was one of several things that helped win over his mother Autumn Rowser.
"It's just not the athletic side, it's the academics," she said. "A lot of schools call and that's the focus, but with Arkansas they put us in touch with a lot of the academic staff. They laid out in the virtual the support tools they have from the facilities and the different rooms and gathering rooms for study hall and the tutors for each subject. It was impressive."
Coach Sam Pittman and cornerbacks coach Sam Carter along with other staff members also made sure to include Rowser's parents in the recruiting process.
"We ran into issues where a lot of schools would reach out to Myles, but not reach out to us," Autumn Rowser said. "So I really couldn't get a vibe for how they were recruiting him and what the selling points were, but with Arkansas everything was transparent because they reached out directly to us. So we were able to see firsthand and then ask questions about anything we had on our mind."
She called Carter a "genuine person" and praised his ability to communicate, which eased the concern of her son attending school more than 800 miles away.
"There's the daily Bible verses he shares with us," Autumn Rowser said. "The conversations center around Myles as a person and us as parents. He's got kids, so those things it was kind of like, 'Wow, OK, maybe we had some nerves about the recruiting process. Maybe there were things we may have been apprehensive to ask,' but with coach Carter it felt like the door was open for all of that. He's a great communicator, very thorough and upfront."
Rowser recorded 61 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a sack, 3 interceptions, 10 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles as a junior. ESPN also rates him the No. 12 safety and No. 181 overall prospect for the 2022 class.
Myles announced a top eight of Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Penn State a day before the Hogs extended a scholarship.
It was Arkansas' virtual visit a couple of weeks later that made Rowser's mother feel like Fayetteville could be her son's future home.
"It seems impossible that we had a top eight and they weren't anywhere in the eight, and now we get that call from this school and they're like everything that I've envisioned," she said. "So these are the list of questions, so I'm going to come back with this and this and this and that."
College athletes are expected to be able to profit off their name, image and likeness in the future. Autumn Rowser had questions for Arkansas about that subject.
"The whole branding thing, I wanted to know where they were with that," she said. "Just things I thought might potentially be barriers, turns out they weren't.
"If coach Carter didn't know, he had someone else call me back. They gave me the information and then they would call me back to make sure I got it."
The communication with Arkansas was on a different level.
"I don't think there's a school that we've been recruited by where the entire staff reaches out or follows and is kind of there for your every whim or disposal," she said. "That's a different type of feeling because it makes you feel a level of comfort you're just not going to feel when it's not that way."
She also observed and approved of how the SEC handled the coronavirus pandemic and allowed the athletes to compete in a safe manner.
It appears the NCAA will lift the dead period after May 31 and allow prospects to visit college campuses. The Rowsers plan to make an official visit to Fayetteville on June 4.
Talks with Pittman made her son's decision seem like fate.
"Certain things just line up, maybe it's not all Arkansas, maybe it not all us," Autumn Rowser said. "Maybe it's God in there, and that's where my faith lies every day.
"When we started talking to Coach Pitt, he talked about his bulldogs. The one he had and the one he has now. We have a bulldog. An English bulldog. There were so many commonalities."
Email Richard Davenport at [email protected]