FAYETTEVILLE — Arkadelphia Class of 2023 quarterback Donovan Whitten has been given a preferred walk-on offer to Arkansas to play linebacker.
Whitten, 6-3, 220, has gained recruiting attention while leading the Badgers to an undefeated season so far in hopes of winning the Class 4A state championship. Whitten and Arkadelphia (9-0) will host Ozark (8-3) tonight in the second round of the state playoffs. On Thursday night, Whitten talked about what the offer to the Razorbacks means to him.
“It’s my first Division 1 offer so that’s a big jump for me,” Whitten said. “I feel like it opened up a lot of opportunities for me.”
Was the offer a surprise or something you had been expecting to receive?
“Coach (Barry) Odom saw me play and Coach (Dowell) Loggains has seen me play twice against Ashdown so I’ve been talking to them on and off,” Whitten said. “I didn’t know that if anything would come out of it, but I have been on and off with the coaches.”
Whitten will be in attendance when the Razorbacks host No. 14 Ole Miss Saturday night in Razorback Stadium. Whitten talked about his expectations for the visit.
“Some of the things I haven’t been to a Razorback game in so long I want to see the energy and all that stuff while I’m there,” Whitten said. “I want to see what they can do for me as a preferred walk-on because I’m not very educated in that route. So I want to see what they have to offer.”
What would it mean to you to play in the SEC against the best athletes in the nation?
“Oh yeah especially growing up in Arkansas and always being around it,” Whitten said. “It would be like a dream come true to play at that level.”
Whitten and the Badgers have rolled through their schedule this season without a setback. Once they got by Hot Springs 29-28 in the second week of the season they have won by blowouts most weeks.
“We’ve been ranked No. 1 for pretty much the whole season so I would say we’ve got the best chance,” Whitten said.
This season, Whitten has passed for 1,943 yards, 27 touchdowns and only thrown two interceptions. He also has rushed for 389 yards and six touchdowns as well. That followed a junior season that saw Whitten complete 211 of 326 passes for 3,605 yards and 43 touchdowns. In 2021, Whitten also rushed for 682 yards and six touchdowns. He talked about what has made the Badgers so good this season.
“One of the things I think about when I think about our team is how much depth we have,” Whitten said. “We have depth on both sides of the ball. We only have one guy that plays both sides and he only plays defense when he has to. We have a lot of people fresh that come on the field when others come off.”
With Whitten concentrating on quarterback, and not linebacker, the past two seasons he talked about the Hogs offering him for defense.
“I played linebacker as a sophomore and then after that I switched to quarterback,” Whitten said. “But I mean I feel like I could do it, but it would definitely be a challenge switching back. I have confidence in myself and I think I could do it. I would work hard to do that.”
Whitten likes the coaching staff headed by Sam Pittman at Arkansas. The staff has impressed him.
“Being an Arkansas fan I love this new wave of coaches that we’ve got,” Whitten said. “They’ve just brought so much energy and such a culture to the program. That’s what I like about them.”
In addition to the preferred walk-on offer to Arkansas, Whitten has offers from Ouachita Baptist, Henderson State, Southern Arkansas, Arkansas Tech and Arkansas Baptist. Whitten talked about what he’s looking for in a college.
“I just want a place that has a good atmosphere, culture and I will fit in,” Whitten said. “A place that challenges me.”
The other five offers to Whitten are for quarterback. So, at this point, the Hogs are the lone offer for defense. As far as quarterback, Whitten talked about what he feels are his strengths for the position.
“Some of my strengths are my arm strength,” Whitten said. “I can throw the ball down the field pretty well. My size as well. I can throw with a lot of anticipation and rhythm. Whenever the pocket breaks down I feel I can make plays outside the pocket.”
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