Altee Tenpenny stays grounded

Brad Bolding has helped build Altee Tenpenny into a college prospect. Now, it's time to keep his ego in check.

"The biggest thing I worry about, and we've had these conversations, is staying grounded," the head coach at North Little Rock (Ark.) High School said.

While the running back prospect is quickly growing into one of the top prospects in the region, Bolding says his focus must still be on his team.

"That's the thing that I've been spending a lot of time with him on," Bolding said. "Don't get bigheaded. Don't get to where your teammates don't like you. Your teammates need to like you."

Being liked wasn't a problem for Tenpenny at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., last week. During the Sparq championship, he had the loudest cheering section. Fellow prospects often noted how entertaining he could be, even though he was only one of three rising juniors among a group of 150 of the nation's top prospects.

"He's a very funny kid," Bolding said. "But he knows when to be serious. And he knows when to have a good time. He understands that, but he relates to everybody. It could be a kid that lives out in a rural area to an inner-city kid."

The 5-foot-11, 198-pound Tenpenny already has two scholarship offers. Look for that list to grow in the coming days. He has two important camps coming up, one at Arkansas on Saturday and another at Alabama on Sunday.

"Right about now, I'm just thankful for the two offers I have," Tenpenny said. "I'm not really thinking about getting more. I'll wait my turn."

He won't have to wait long. It would be no surprise if he picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide if he passes Nick Saban's in-person eye test.

Balding said 'Bama, Oklahoma, Auburn and Oklahoma State have all shown strong interest and could be close to offering an official invite. Then, comes the big date on Sept. 1 when coaches can have more contact with juniors.

"They'll be coming out of the woodwork," Bolding said.

The following day, North Little Rock begins its 2011 season at home.

"I figure there will be a packed house [with recruiters] then," Bolding said.

Bolding hopes a stable home life will help Tenpenny adjust to all the attention, which began soon after he stepped on the field in ninth grade.

"His ninth grade year he was just head and shoulders above everybody," Bolding said. "There were countless times where he ran for 60-, 70-yard touchdowns."
Bolding believes Tenpenny soon will be mentioned in the same breath as former elite prospects from Arkansas such as running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Dyer.

"He's in that same category," Bolding said. "I've coached a lot of great players, been around a lot of good ones."

If Tenpenny takes his senior season half as seriously as he took The Opening his ascension in the recruiting world will skyrocket.

"He worked during his two-week dead period [in June], which is a time they get to relax," Bolding said. "He worked that whole two weeks and they ran him through the mill to get him ready. He wanted to represent Arkansas. He took a lot of pride in that.

"You don't run around 16-year-olds that are that driven, have the willpower to get up and push themselves. For him to have that at such a young age, it's a very good compliment to him."

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for over a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.