Recruiting, in some ways, is like sports itself.
You can’t make all the shots, can’t complete all the passes and hit all the pitches. Being able to hit “reset” and move on to the next play is essential to success. The sooner you learn that, the better you become at winning games and the signatures of big-time recruits.
So, perhaps, Bobby Petrino has already moved on from failing to convince the state of Arkansas’ top offensive recruit to stay in state back in December. Maybe he’s closed the Courtney Crutchfield chapter for now, moving on to recruiting future classes and the formidable task of injecting life into Arkansas’ offense and hope into the veins of Arkansas football fans who are ready to see a functional offensive line again.
If that’s the case, he should never forget one part of Crutchfield’s recruitment: not capitalizing on his connection with one of the NFL’s biggest superstars, Lamar Jackson.
Petrino made a point of visiting the star wide receiver at Pine Bluff High School to try to sway him to Arkansas, but might have focused more on talking about the receivers he had coached than the quarterbacks.
Crutchfield, who ended up signing with Missouri, said while he felt Petrino was a good hire as Arkansas’ offensive coordinator, “I don’t think I was old enough to know who Bobby Petrino was when he was in his prime.” He didn’t know Petrino had coached Lamar Jackson in college.
Figuring out a good reason is simple enough: the recruits who are 16 and 17 years old now were in elementary school when Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016. Most of them weren’t watching college sports like they would in later years.
Usually, that tipping point in sports watching comes in the teens, which is why many in their 20s and older may find Crutchfield’s lack of knowledge here surprising.
More Arkansas Football Recruits Share Surprising News
But if age gaps do indeed lead to knowledge gaps, then it would be natural to presume that Razorback recruits in future classes would have the same issue. Indeed, that appears to be the case when polling the recruits younger than Crutchfield.
Best of Arkansas Sports polled 19 Power 4 recruits, most of whom have been offered a scholarship by Arkansas. All of them play on offense. Thirteen responded that they, like Crutchfield, didn’t know Petrino had coached Lamar Jackson.
Those who didn’t know include WR Tristan Norman (class of 2025), WR Tradarian Bell (2025), RB Luther Tucker (2025), OL Evan Goodwin (2026) and a quarterback in Little Rock Parkview’s Quentin Murphy (2025).
There were two quarterbacks among the six recruits who responded who did know of Petrino’s Lamar Jackson connection. “We talked about his Heisman year a few times,” said Grant Smith, a 2026 quarterback out of Spring, Texas. “Coach Petrino has coached several elite QBs in college and the pros.”
- Jake Plummer (selected by Arizona Cardinals, 2nd Round)
- Stefan LeFors (Carolina Panthers; 4th Round)
- Brandon Doughty (Miami Dolphins; 7th Round)
- Brian Brohm (Green Bay Packers; 2nd Round)
- Tyler Wilson (Oakland Raiders; 4th Round)
Lamar Jackson’s continued success can only further bolster Petrino’s reputation as an offensive genius, which by extension, can only help Arkansas football recruiting. Currently, in Petrino’s “X” profile, he markets himself as “Just a small town Montana guy. Author of ‘Inside the Pocket: An In-Depth Analysis of the Xs & Os’, now available! My grandkids call me Coach. #WPS”:
Being an aw-shucks grandpa is great, Bobby. But you’re also a stone-cold killer who comes to win. If you can figure out ways to flummox some of the game’s greatest defensive coordinators, you can definitely figure out a way to fit “College coach of NFL superstar Lamar Jackson” into a Twitter bio. Yes, there is mention of the Jackson tutelage near the end of Petrino’s bio page, but most recruits aren’t going dig for that. The easy solution: the Arkansas football marketing team makes a highlight package of his past QBs featuring Jackson that can go at the top of that bio page, attached to Petrino’s “X” profile and sent to all recruits.
If all this leads to better recruits, as it should, Razorback fans won’t mind in the least that Jackson is a Louisville Cardinal through and through.
Also, as of Wednesday, Petrino hasn’t posted a single Tweet in the year 2024. It’s high time he sends out something congratulating Jackson on his fantastic season. He need not look any farther than down Razorback Road to find a great example in how to play up connections to the pros – nobody in college sports does it better than Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman.
Bobby Petrino Wise to Tout Lamar Jackson’s Rise
Such self-promotion is all the more important this week as Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens get ready to take on the Kansas City Chiefs with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
Jackson has set a career-high in passing this season and is the favorite to win his second NFL Most Valuable Player award. “He’s going to be the MVP for a reason,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said of Jackson. “He goes out there, he leads his team. He scores, he runs, he throws, he does whatever it takes to win.”
And he does all that a high, high level. Lamar Jackson has played his best against the best, beating 10 teams that finished with winning records. That’s the most by a quarterback since at least 2000, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
His Sunday afternoon showdown with Mahomes will represent the first time in NFL history that two NFL MVP quarterbacks under the age of 30 will go against each other in the playoffs. With a star showing on such a stage, there will be few bigger names in the sport.
In the past, Bobby Petrino has had no problems touting his ties to Lamar Jackson.
In 2020, he even moonlighted as a Sports Illustrated author, penning an article about his role guiding the wunderkind and how he was transforming the game of football.
At one point, he quoted Jackson’s NFL coach, John Harbaugh, saying to the youngest quarterback to ever win an MVP: “You changed the game, man, You know how many little kids in this country are going to be wearing No. 8 (Jackson’s number) playing quarterback the next 20 years?”
Some of those kids and their older brothers will grow into Arkansas football recruits. It will be a tremendous lost opportunity if these Lamar Jackson fans stay in the dark about the role Petrino played in the future Hall of Famer’s rise.
See our latest Arkansas football post here:
*Research conducted by Jace Dunegan
Below is an interview with Bobby Petrino conducted in early January 2024.
At 3:00, Petrino talks about Lamar Jackson under the Ravens’ first year OC Todd Monken:
At 6:30, he goes into Lamar Jackson racing Donovan Mitchell** on the Louisville campus:
At 13:30, he discusses whether Jackson is now doing what he envisioned for Michael Vick in 2007 in Atlanta:
** Petrino and the host misidentify the guard as Rajon Rondo, but Rondo had played for UK many years before