By Patrick CrawfordArkansas Media Relations
Kabala is entering his third year with the Razorback football program and his second as the director of on-campus recruiting and eligibility coordinator. He spent his first two seasons as an assistant director for football academic support. He helped recruit the 20th-ranked class in the nation last season.
Finding the perfect mix of student and athlete in a football player is Kabala’s task. Many of his weekly duties include researching prospects, meeting with visiting recruits and introducing recruits and their families to professors and academic support staff. Kabala also assists in other aspects of football operations. Kabala is married to the former Becky King, a kindergarten teacher at Monitor Elementary in Springdale, Ark.
Q: Dann, could you explain what your job entails as the director of on-campus recruiting/eligibility coordinator?
A: I organize the recruiting process so our coaches can focus on coaching and winning football games. I research recruits, find new recruits and then a part of that is making sure they will be eligible when they arrive at Arkansas. I’m here to let the coaches focus on winning, which is what we’re all here for.
Q: In your time here, the Razorback football team has achieved the highest team GPA in the 100-year history of the Razorbacks. What would say has caused this positive result?
A: When I came here, I worked in academics. I think the team’s successful GPA can be summed up by Coach Petrino’s focus on it. His staff’s and his mentality is to find student-athletes that will help us on the field, but also succeed in the classroom and graduate. Getting a degree is his biggest thing. With that, I think we’re recruiting a different type of kid now, and everyone is starting to see that with the GPA. Our coaching staff and academic support staff do a great job.
Q: You first crossed paths with Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino while working for the Jacksonville Jaguars. What did you notice about Coach Petrino then, and how would you describe him now?
A: I knew he was very detail-oriented. I knew his players respected him. And I knew he would outwork anyone. The outworking part and his attention to detail are what make Coach Petrino so great. I’ve taken that from him. His approach is a big factor to his success. His work ethic trickles down to everyone else.
Q: How did your own approach to work help you get to Arkansas?
A: When you plan to work in this business, you know that you need to keep in contact with a lot of people and you’re going to run into a lot of people. What I’ve always done is come to work every day and grind it out. Then I think things begin to take care of themselves.
Q: Would you give us an example of a typical game day for you?
A: If we have official visits, we will be giving tours and taking recruits to campus to meet professors and academics staff. They’ll also meet with student life coordinators and our strength and conditioning staff. We’ll open the doors for the game to all of our recruits two hours before kickoff. When families and their kids come to the Arkansas campus, they not only need to see the football game, but they need to see what professors are like and what a typical college day is like. We want anyone who visits to know that at Arkansas, they can succeed. Our football staff will help you, but the entire campus can be instrumental in their success.
Q: You mention professors. How are Razorback football team members connecting with professors who have been helpful in their time at UA?
A: Our upperclassmen can nominate a University of Arkansas professor who has made a difference in their lives. The professor can come down on the field for pregame. They get a game day shirt and hat to wear and have their photo taken with University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director Jeff Long. Then they get to come up to the booth for the rest of the football game. We like to put it in the players’ hands because they are the ones going to class every day. Our players see what the professors do all the time in class, but those professors may never get to see what our football players are doing outside of class. This is our way of getting the professor to see our kids in their element.
Q: In your time working with the Razorbacks and living in Fayetteville, what have you enjoyed most?
A: The fan support is awesome. There is no other place in the country like this. Arkansas is really unique. Some people may take it for granted, but here; we’re always going to have our Razorback fans. My wife is from Pittsburgh, Pa., and just the way everyone has made us feel welcome is great.
Q: Working with football undoubtedly is a huge time commitment. What do you do when you are able to get away?
A: What I like to do in my spare time the most is visit my wife Becky’s kindergarten class. Just to see those kids is great. It’s a lot of fun for me. It’s something I’d say I really enjoy more than anything when I see their smiling faces.