One of the first things that Gus Malzahn said after being named the head coach at Arkansas State was that he planned on recruiting the state of Arkansas like it had never been recruited before.
Apparently he means it.
On Monday, Arkansas State assistant coaches will hit the road and do something that hasn't been done in the state of Arkansas in a long time, if ever.
The AState Ambush, as it’s being called, is an all-out recruiting blitz of the 215 Arkansas high schools that have football programs. A Red Wolf assistant coach will be in every high school in the state over the next five days.
“I promised when I was hired that we were going to recruit the state of Arkansas like it had never been recruited before, this is where that starts,” Malzahn told AStateNation.com. “I want every (high school) coach in the state to know how important they are to me and my coaching staff.”
Malzahn, who spent 15 years as a high school coach in the state, has made no attempt to hide his fondness and respect of Arkansas high school coaches and it’s his goal to build the foundation of his football team with Arkansas athletes.
“We want the high school coaches to have ownership in what we are doing,” Malzahn said. “The foundation of our program is going to be built with Arkansas players. I truly mean that.”
Malzahn and his coaching staff had only six weeks to put together the Sun Belt Conference's No. 1 recruiting class. Out of those 28 signees, 11 were from Arkansas.
Why is the AState Ambush so unique? Most Division-I college coaches only hit the high schools that have D-I prospects or are known for producing D-I prospects.
AStateNation asked Malzahn why he wanted his assistant coaches to shake the hands of every coach in the state.
“I want them to know that our doors are always open for them here at Arkansas State,” Malzahn said. “I want them to know that even if they never have a kid that can play college ball that they are still very important to us and our program. I want them to know that they can come study our film, watch our practices and be a part of our program.”
Malzahn also has hired a lot of coaches on his current staff that have Arkansas connections.
“There are no better high school coaches in America than they are right here in the state of Arkansas,” Malzahn said. “I truly believe that.”
Malzahn feels that the AState Ambush will definitely be unique.
“I don’t think it has ever been done before,” Malzahn said. “I know it hasn’t been done in just five days.”
There are billboards all across the state with Malzahn’s face and the advertising slogan "Game On."
Malzahn has promised to take Arkansas State to the next level, and there is no doubt that the Ambush will be labeled as the next level in recruiting.
Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn during their 2010-11 national championship season, leading the offense that propelled Cam Newton to stardom, and won the Broyles Award given to the nation's top assistant coach. He stepped down from that post in Dec. 2011 to take the Arkansas State head coaching job.
AStateNation.com will be calling high school coaches across the state of Arkansas in the next couple of days to get their reactions to Malzahn's plan.