If the Arkansas Razorbacks show substantial improvement on defense in the first couple years of the Bielema era, Martrell Spaight may very well be a key part of the equation. A two-time junior college All-American linebacker, Spaight flipped to Arkansas in December after committing to Kansas State. The Razorbacks hadn’t shown interest in the North Little rock native until the early December arrival of Bret Bielema. Bielema quickly targeted Spaight and visited him.
“I could tell he was a great coach and I could see him doing big things at the University of Arkansas,” Spaight recalled. “I bought into everything he said and told myself ‘Hey, this is what you want. This is your dream.'” Spaight ultimately chose Arkansas after receiving interest from other major programs like South Carolina, Rutgers, West Virginia and Miami.
“To be honest, I never thought I’d get to this point in my life where I thought I’d be able to choose [from] these different schools. It’s been a fortunate blessing.” He said he expects to arrive at the Fayetteville campus this spring, after first completing a math class requirement. He plans to soon attend a month-long class at the Arkansas Baptist College in downtown Little Rock.
This past season as a sophomore, Spaight was named Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year by league coaches and was a first team All-Conference honoree. In nine games, Spaight recorded 130 tackles, good for fourth on the school’s all-time list. Spaight also had 13.5 tackles for loss for 33 yards, 1.5 sacks, three pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
As a freshman in 2011, Spaight was a first team selection to the NJCAA All-American team. Spaight recorded 101 tackles, nine tackles for loss for 22 yards, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Spaight was also named first team All-Jayhawk Conference in 2011.
A couple more notes from Wednesday’s interview:
– Martrell wasn’t familiar with Randy Shannon before it was announced the longtime Hurricane would be Arkansas’ linebackers coach. That has changed. Shannon visited Spaight and told him about his extensive coaching experience, especially his background coaching outstanding defensive players at the University of Miami. “He was telling me about when he coached Ray Lewis. It was just mind-blowing,” Spaight said. “I believe he’s gonna get us to be very great, and I really enjoy that.”
– Martrell’s considering majoring in business. He already has a small business background because his family runs Feastros, an American style restaurant in Sherwood. Maybe, he adds, he’ll open up a restaurant of his own one day.