Evin Demirel: Where Is The Arkansas Football Capital?


The Arkansas Football Capital copy

Visit Evin's Author PageIt’s no surprise Pulaski County, by far Arkansas’ most populous county, also happens to produce the most Division I players in the state. This played out yesterday when nine high schoolers in Pulaski County signed national letters of intent to play for D1 football programs. But when it comes to investing in a culture of football at all levels and producing D1 talent on a per capita basis, central Arkansas lags behind other parts of the state. And, no, this time we’re not talking about northwest Arkansas.

Look southward, toward the state line. Union County is home to the 6-3, 295-pound Bijhon Jackson. It’s no coincidence this four-star defensive tackle, the headliner of the Razorbacks’ most recent class, hails from El Dorado High in Union County. His program has not only won at a high clip – winning four state championships in the last five years – but it likely rivals North Little Rock High in producing the highest output of future D1 players among all Arkansas prep programs. By itself, Union County produces a state-high one Division I player for every 117 of its college-age males. Three of the county’s high school seniors signed on Wednesday, including Jackson.

“He’s really everything you want,” El Dorado coach Scott Reed told the El Dorado News-Times. “He’s intelligent. He’s explosive … He has great savvy. He understands the game. There are no limits on him.”

The same, sadly, cannot be said of county quotas when it comes to future D1 football players. But some Arkansas counties are still punching far above their weight. And to that, we here at Sporting Life Arkansas tip our helmets.

Here are Arkansas’ top D1 hotspots over the last few years:

1. Union County

D1 Players: 15

Population*: 1,754

Per Capita: 1 in 117

*Population reflects only college-age males residing in the county.


Hometown College Year* Position

Bijhon Jackson

El Dorado UA HS DL

Will Jones

El Dorado UCA HS OT

Ty Mullens

Smackover Louisiana Tech HS DL

Deonta Baker

Smackover UCA FR WR

Justin Billings

El Dorado UAPB SR RB

Kenneth Dixon

Strong Louisiana Tech SO RB

Matt Emrich

El Dorado UA FR SNP

Philip Hay

El Dorado Harvard FR WR

Shaquille Hunter

Junction City UA FR DB

Byran Jones

Junction City UA SR DL

Joseph Morris

El Dorado Stetson FR LB

Clay Murphy

El Dorado UCA JR WR

Taylor Reed

El Dorado UCA SO QB

Jeff Savage

Smackover Louisiana-Monroe FR OL

Alan Turner

Junction City UA JR DB

*Five classes are included in this calculation: the current four classes on college campus – including the college seniors who finished their career in 2013 – and the class of high school [HS] seniors who just signed. Sources: MODE and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  

2. Cross County

D1 Players: 6

Population: 707

Per Capita: 1 in 118


Hometown College Year Position

Jake Snyder

Wynne Louisiana-Monroe HS OT

Blake Veasley

Cherry Valley UCA SO RB

Joseph Stampley

Wynne Missouri State FR WR

Tony Jones

Wynne Missouri State FR DL

Nick Moody

Wynne UCA FR  DB

Drayton Willis


3. Ouachita County

D1 Players: 7

Population: 1,042

Per Capita: 1 in 149


Hometown College Year Position

Deion Holliman

Camden Missouri State HS WR

Sybhrian Berry

Camden Missouri State SR DB

Davidell Collins

Bearden Oklahoma State SR DL

McKinze James

Camden Missouri State FR DL

Kyle Noel


Braxton Hoff


Jerry Moorehead

Camden ASU FR TE

4. Jefferson County

D1 players: 22

Population: 4,150

Per Capita: 1 in 189


Hometown* College Year Position

Josh Liddell

Pine Bluff UA HS ATH

Martin Montgomery

Pine Bluff Missouri State SR DL

Mitch Lane

Pine Bluff Louisiana-Monroe SO DB

Joseph Treadwell

Pine Bluff Louisiana-Monroe JR OL

Jordan Stargell

Pine Bluff Grambling St. SR DB

Aaron Lagrone

Pine Bluff UAPB SO RB

C.J. Branch

Pine Bluff UAPB JR TE

Santonio Cole

Pine Bluff UAPB FR QB

Sam Bass

Pine Bluff UAPB SR WR

Walter Ashley

Pine Bluff UAPB FR RB

Jeremiah Young

Pine Bluff UAPB FR RB

Antonio Jenkins

Pine Bluff UAPB SO LB

Jalen Dabner

Pine Bluff UAPB FR RB

Davin Ryles

Pine Bluff UAPB JR DB

Jared Turner

Pine Bluff UAPB FR DB

Kevin Sargent

Pine Bluff UAPB FR LB

Kyle Coleman

Pine Bluff Arkansas State JR DB

Charleston Girley

Pine Bluff Arkansas State SO DB

Booker Mays

Pine Bluff Arkansas State FR WR

Kelsey Collins

Pine Bluff Arkansas State JR WR

Scotty Thurman

Pine Bluff** UA FR WR

Jeremy Sprinkle

Pine Bluff UA FR TE

* All hometowns are taken from ESPN.com. They do not always reflect where the player has lived for most of his adolescence. Scotty Thurman Jr., for instance, spent much of his adolescence in Little Rock and Fayetteville.

How do some of the more populous counties fare? Here’s a breakdown among the big boys:

1. Crittenden

D1 Players: 10

Population: 2,198

Per Capita: 1 in 220

2. Pulaski

D1 Players: 39

Population: 18,031

Per Capita: 1 in 462

3. Sebastian

D1 Players: 11

Population: 6,080

Per Capita: 1 in 553

4. Washington

D1 Players: 27

Population: 15,029

Per Capita: 1 in 557


D1 Players: 6

Population: 3,945

Per Capita: 1 in 658

7. Benton

D1 Players: 12

Population: 9313

Per Capita:  1 in 776

8. Pope

D1 Players: 6

Population: 4,684

Per Capita: 1 in 781

9. Craighead

D1 Players: 6

Population: 6,252

Per Capita: 1 in 1,042

10. Faulkner

D1 Players: 6

Population: 8,736

Per Capita: 1 in 1456

11. Saline

D1 Players: 3

Population: 3,998

Per Capita: 1 in 1,333

Extra Notes 

– Per capita rankings include only counties with a minimum of four D1 players.

– Walk-ons are included (e.g. Smackover’s Ty Mullens, who’s walking on to Louisiana Tech)

–  Major h/t to Benn Stancil of MODE for the fascinating post which formed the basis for this one.

– Unfortunately, there is no easy access to historical data to help us discover which Arkansas county holds the all-time per capita record for D1 players. It would be interesting to see where Bradley County – which only has a college-age male population of 495, but produced the likes of Julius Wright and Greg Childs – would have ranked at its apex.

D.J. Demirel spins the historical sports data turntable all night long on Twitter and  thesportsseer.com.

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