Welcome to Saturday Down South’s “D-line Week”, where we talk with some of the top realistic defensive line targets out there for SEC schools. We’ve interviewed some of the biggest names in the country, and we’ll rank them at the end of the week. See who your school has a chance of luring to campus.
Arkansas’ top 2015 recruit currently lives in Sweden and plays his club football in Denmark.
Yes, you read that correctly. But please let us explain.
Hjalte Froholdt is an elite defensive tackle who also happens to be European. It has happened before that an exchange student has picked up scholarship offers in America, but Froholdt is handling all of his recruiting from Scandanavia–which is a bit unique, though it doesn’t seem to be hurting his reputation one bit. See, he and his family went back to Europe for his junior year and will return this summer to play his senior season in America. He caught the eye of big-time college coaches when he played–and dominated in–his sophomore football season at Harding High School in Warren (Ohio). Michigan and Ohio State still want him badly, as does national champion Florida State and SEC powerhouse Alabama–but Arkansas and its coaching staff caught his eye.
Froholdt is quite in tune with his heritage. He is all Danish on his dad’s side, and mostly Danish on his mom’s … but his mom’s background is also partly from the Pacific island nation of Tonga. He has cousins who played rugby in New Zealand and Australia, and one of his great uncles is actually in the rugby Hall of Fame.
“So I take a lot of pride being the Viking that I am, but also the part of my Tongan and New Zealand heritage,” Froholdt told Saturday Down South from his home in Sweden.
So, now you understand that SEC coaches–and coaches anywhere, really–will go anywhere in the world for talent … especially when it comes to top-flight talent along the defensive line. Froholdt is 6-foot-4, 285 pounds and has a motor that runs about 27 hours a day, 8 days a week, 400 days a year. Bret Bielema and his staff picked up on that.
Froholdt is strong yet athletic, and that has made him the No. 78 overall college prospect in America … errrr, make that the No. 78 prospect in the world, actually.
“I would just say thank you so much to the coaches for not stopping believing in me,” Froholdt told SDS. “I’ve worked as hard as I can here (at his club in) Denmark to stay strong for when I get back to the states. I don’t know how it would be with another program, but it sure makes it easier to commit to something when someone believes in you, and doesn’t give up on you. That’s why I know Arkansas–and Coach B–is the perfect fit for me … Some may think that it was stupid of me to pick Arkansas, but all of that was based of their last year’s record. They don’t know about how great of a program it is, and the guys who are going to join it at get it to new heights.”
That’s one thing Froholdt talks about constantly is how strong this Arkansas class is. It is a national top 10 group for 2015, and has kept its in-state talent at home–which it hasn’t always done in the past. Froholdt is clearly the top-ranked player in the Razorbacks’ recruiting class, just ahead of the top player from the state of Arkansas–QB Ty Storey. They’ve bonded too, though it has been remotely through social media.
“I like that we’re all linemen and then a great quarterback,” Froholdt told SDS. “All the guys are so talented, and I’ve watched all their highlights. And of course I brag. Even to the guys in Denmark.”
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to ratings follow the 247Sports.com composite rankings for high school prospects.