Closer Look at Arkansas Football Recruiting (Defense) for Class of 2021

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FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas has four commitments for the Class of 2021 with one targeted for defense.

Barry Odom, Arkansas’ defensive coordinator, was asked recently about the needs for the defense in this recruiting class.

“We’re really young on defense,” Odom said. “You just look at the guys returning at every spot. So, I think as coach has set kind of what we’re looking at numbers going into next year, we’ll sign a full class. We’re recruiting heavy every position on the defensive side. I really like our returning roster at every spot. I like the ability that those guys have. I’m anxious to get out and continue to develop what they do. But right now, we’re full steam ahead on really recruiting every spot defensively.”

Arkansas has a commitment from Jonesboro linebacker Marco Avant, 6-3, 212. He committed to the Hogs on April 3. Last season at Forrest City, Avant had 83 tackles, 56 solo, 12 for loss and three quarterback hurries.

Arkansas is also recruiting other linebackers. A couple who visited for a Junior Day are among the targets. Radcliff (Ky.) North Hardin’s Michael Lunz, 6-3, 230, and Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett’s Dwayne Johnson, 6-4, 220, are possibilities.

As a junior, Lunz had 85 tackles, 20 for loss and three interceptions. Lunz, who is an outstanding student, will enroll at his new school at midterm. He was recently offered by Michigan State and Missouri State. He has several offers.

Johnson finished his junior season with 76 tackles, 48 solo, one for loss, 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups, an interception and one fumble recovery.

At defensive end, Arkansas recently offered Antioch (Calif.) High School’s Jailen Weaver, 6-7, 250. Weaver has offers from others such as Tennessee and Nebraska. As a junior, he had 46 tackles, including 23 solo, 12 for loss, nine sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.

At defensive tackle, Arkansas is recruiting such players as Atlanta (Ga.) Tri-Cities’ Cameron Ball, 6-5, 282, Buford (Ga.) High School’s Matthew Alexander, 6-3, 280, and a talented trio from the junior college ranks. They are Jones County (Miss.) Community College’s Jalen Williams, 6-3, 310, Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College’s Demeco Roland, 6-3, 306, and Iowa Western Community College’s Isaiah Coe, 6-3, 310.

Arkansas will lose defensive tackles as Xavier Kelly and Jonathan Marshall following this season. Each of the targets has multiple offers.

In 2019, Coe had 37 tackles, 23 solo, 13 for loss, 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Oklahoma is among his other offers. Roland, who is from Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School, played for Rion Rhoades at Hutchinson last season. He had five tackles, three solo, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Williams had 28 tackles, 11 solo, 15 for loss, one sack and two quarterback hurries.

A cornerback Arkansas made a recent list of favorites for is Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington’s Keuan Parker, 5-9, 170. He also lists Kansas, Nebraska, Michigan State, SMU and Baylor in his Top 6. He was at an Arkansas Junior Day before the COVID-19 shutdown.

At safety, Arkansas could land a commitment from Kansas City (Mo.) Lincoln College Prep’s Jermaine Hamilton-Jordan, 6-1, 195. He has listed the Hogs as his top choice since even before his March 7 visit to an Arkansas Junior Day. At linebacker, he had 150 tackles, 18 for loss and five sacks. He is being recruited to play safety at Arkansas by Odom and the staff.

St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic’s Tyler Hibbler, 6-0, 175, also attended a Junior Day at Arkansas. In 2019, he finished with 59 tackles, 32 solo, seven tackles for loss, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a pair of recovered ones.

One of Arkansas’ targets at safety, Muskogee (Okla.) High School’s Ty Williams, 6-1, 186, recently committed to Oklahoma State.

Arkansas has several other offers out at all the positions. At this time, this was a closer look at some of the ones who have visited and a couple of recent offers in addition to some junior college recruits.

Click here for a closer look at the targets on offense.

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