Bret Bielema's ploy cost Arkansas? Zach Smith shares bizarre K.J. Hill recruitment story
K.J. Hill’s recruitment was a brutal one for Razorback fans as the North Little Rock native was at one point committed to Bret Bielema’s Arkansas program but ultimately signed with Urban Meyer’s Ohio State program in the 2015 recruiting cycle.
During that cycle, Hill was the No. 1 overall prospect from the Natural State, an Army All-American and a top 200 prospect in the country. While Arkansas fans may have been upset at losing the state’s top prospect to the Buckeyes, we may now know why that occurred thanks to an unlikely source.
Remember the disgraced former Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith, the guy that has been accused of domestic violence against his ex-wife that eventually led to Meyer being suspended last season? Well, he’s back after being fired at Ohio State and he’s started up a podcast. Incredibly, it’s titled “Menace 2 Society.”
That title feels very appropriate.
On the most recent episode of the “Menace 2 Society” podcast, Smith shared his recollection of events in the recruitment of Hill that cost Arkansas the state’s top player for the 2015 recruiting cycle.
“Arkansas is backwoods state, they do some stuff like you read about Southern recruiting where all of a sudden, K.J.’s stepdad’s job is being threatened by the boss and his family is getting run out of town,” Smith claimed on the podcast. “They are coming to his basketball games and just destroying the kid, but Bret Bielema did something that I’ve never heard about in college coaching.”
After taking his official visit to Arkansas, Hill was scheduled to visit Ohio State officially leading up to National Signing Day. The week of the visit, Smith claims Bielema tried to cancel Hill’s visit without his knowledge.
“K.J. Hill is coming for an official visit. It’s the Monday before his official visit starts that Friday. (Former Ohio State assistant) Chris Ash comes into my office and says, ‘Hey, listen to this. This is bizarre.’ He has a voicemail from Bret Bielema saying, ‘Hey Chris, Bret. Just wanted to let you know that K.J. is going to cancel his official this weekend. I just wanted to apologize but he’s not going to come.’
“I remember Chris looked at me and I looked at him and we were both puzzled. I’d never heard of that. Kids cancel visits all of the time, but the head coach of the school that’s recruiting [against] you calls?”
According to Smith, that was the final straw for the Hill family and led to him signing with the Buckeyes.
“People in Arkansas want to know how you lost K.J. Hill. That is why, along with everything else that went on,” Smith continued. “We got K.J on the phone, got his dad on the phone. They were irately pissed at Arkansas. ‘You don’t speak for my son, you don’t speak for me.’ He came on his visit and basically he was done with Arkansas.”
If that’s a true story, that’s clearly not a good look for Bielema and may partially explain why he hasn’t jumped back into college coaching. However, considering the source of this information, you have to take it with a grain of salt, to say the least.
Update: KJ Hill responded to Smith’s claims.
Krazy but True .. https://t.co/45Veb8GYMu
— KMFJ (@KayJayHill) June 13, 2019