Arkansas has commitments from more than 20

Wednesday, February 6th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Arkansas is expected to sign about two dozen football players, including a junior college linebacker who could be a starter in the fall.

National signing day is Wednesday, and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference.

The Razorbacks must replace middle linebacker Jermaine Petty, who led the Southeastern Conference in tackles and Marcus Whitmore of Independence (Kan.) Community College could be the answer. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Whitmore led his conference in tackles last year with 136, including 105 unassisted.

``I've had four All-American linebackers, and Marcus is easily the best one I've coached,'' said Independence coach Kent Keith. ``He's a fantastic player.''

Keith called Whitmore the best blitzing linebacker he had ever seen. ``He always knows where he's supposed to be and has a nose for the football,'' he said. ``He runs a 4.5 and loves to hit.''

In addition to finding a replacement for Petty, Arkansas needs help in the offensive line and the Razorbacks have verbal commitments from four players who could contribute in that area. They are Tyler Morgan (6-5, 270) of Hot Springs, Gene Perry (6-4, 290) of East Mississippi Community College, Zac Tubbs (6-7, 330) of Cullman, Ala., and Tony Ugoh (6-6, 300) of Spring, Texas.

Center Kenny Sandlin, guard La'Zerius White and tackle Shannon Money started a total of 106 games, but they completed their eligibility in a 10-3 loss to Oklahoma in the Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl.

Wednesday is the first day that athletes can sign national letters and nothing is official until the signature is in place.

For instance, tight end Lonnie Davis of Jacksonville, Fla., had made a verbal commitment to Arkansas. But, on Monday, he said he would attend Florida State.

Arkansas commitments:

_Chris Baker, wr, 6-2, 180, Osceola

_Reggie Banks, de, 6-4, 270, Evangel HS, Shreveport, La.

_Jonathan Barry, de, 6-5, 220, Oak Ridge HS, Arlington, Texas

_Michael Coe, wr, 6-1 1/2, 180 Cordova (Tenn.) HS

_Eugene Cousart, rb, 5-11, 220, Whitehaven HS, Memphis, Tenn.

_John Jackson, db-wr, 6-0, 187, Monticello (Ark.) HS

_Lucas Jackson, lb, 6-1, 217, West Monroe (La.) HS

_John Johnson, rb, 6-0, 181, Sam Houston HS, Houston, Texas

_Brandon Kennedy, fb, 6-0, 215, Chapel Hill HS, Tyler, Texas

_Rhett Lashlee, qb, 6-2 1/2, 195, Shiloh Christian

_Tyler Morgan, ol, 6-5, 270, Hot Springs (Ark.) HS

_Wes Murphy, dl, 6-4, 230, Shiloh Christian HS, Springdale, Ark.

_Gene Perry, ol, 6-4, 290, East Mississippi CC

_Sammy Olajutubu, lb, 5-10, 205, LaGrange (Ga.) HS

_Dedrick Poole, rb, 5-9, 186, Central HS, Little Rock, Ark.

_Chase Pressley, dl, 6-4, 275, Southside HS, Fort Smith, Ark.

_Aaron Scranton, de, 6-6, 230, Buford (Ga.) HS

_Desmond Sims, wr, 6-2, 193, New Madrid (Mo.) County Central

_David Thompson, wr, 6-2 1/2, 183, University School, Memphis, Tenn.

_Zac Tubbs, ol, 6-7, 330, Cullman (Ala.) HS

_Tony Ugoh, ol, 6-6, 300, Westfield HS, Spring, Texas

_Vickiel Vaughn, db-wr, 6-1, 181, West HS, Plano, Texas

_Charles Walker, dl, 6-2 1/2, 271, Beggs (Okla.) HS

_Cedric Washington, qb, 6-1, 183, Bryan (Texas) HS

_Marcus Whitmore, lb, 6-1, 220, Independence (Kan.) CC

_DeAngelo Williams, rb, 5-9, 207, Wynne