FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has added 10 scholarship recruits from the transfer portal and some preferred walk-on players as well, but they aren’t nearly done.
The transfer portal closed Jan. 18, but will be open again April 15-30. Arkansas had good success last year late in the portal adding such recruits as Georgia Tech defensive end Jordan Domineck, Arkansas State defensive tackle Terry Hampton and Toledo wide receiver Matt Landers. They will need late success again this year.
Of the 10 scholarship players enrolled at Arkansas it’s evenly split between offense and defense, five on each side of the ball. That’s an impressive group on defense considering the Hogs spent much of the time early on without a defensive coordinator. That hampered recruiting defensive players before Travis Williams and Marcus Woodson were hired.
Pitt defensive end John Morgan III, 6-2, 265, took his official visit before Williams had been announced as a hire. He surprisingly signed on the first day of the early signing period after initially saying he would wait until around Jan. 9 to make a decision.
USF linebacker Antonio Grier Jr., 6-1, 223, was committed to Williams and UCF. But when Williams came to Arkansas then Grier flipped his pledge to the Hogs.
The Baylor pair of safety Alfahiym Walcott, 6-2, 220, and cornerback Lorando Johnson, 6-0, 193, as well as Missouri defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat, 6-4, 269, all came after both Williams and Woodson were hired.
Sam Pittman still has one hire to make on defense to replace Dominique Bowman. But the staff will be complete and established by the time the portal opens again in April. Arkansas also has two new assistants on offense including coordinator Dan Enos. Morgan Turner came over from Stanford to coach the tight ends.
The new additions on offense are North Carolina quarterback Jacolby Criswell, 6-1, 205, Florida offensive guard Joshua Braun, 6-6, 335, and wide receivers Texas A&M-Commerce’s Andrew Armstrong, 6-5, 189, Hillsdale College’s Isaac Te’Slaa, 6-4, 210, and Bowling Green’s Tyrone Broden, 6-7, 210.
From the portal and junior colleges, Arkansas has added some talented preferred walk-on recruits. They are Memphis wide receiver Marlon Crockett, 6-4, 210, Northern Colorado punter-kickoff specialist Devin Bale, 6-2, 210, Maryland offensive lineman Tommy Varhall, 6-8, 315, Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College long snapper Ashton Ngo, 6-0, 225, and Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College punter Owen Lawson, 6-1, 180.
So that’s what has been added, but how about remaining needs? Sam Pittman is the one to answer that, but I will take a stab as some needs are obvious and others not so much.
First, it appears the Hogs are done at quarterback, running back and wide receiver from the transfer portal. They didn’t need or take a running back and barring an exit from one or two following spring drills that isn’t expected to change. Unless something happens to dramatically change things following spring drills those three positions seem to be set.
As far as tight end, Arkansas will return super senior Nathan Bax as well as Tyrus Washington will be a redshirt freshman. Two standout four-star tight ends are also expected to be in the mix there. Bixby (Okla.) High’s Luke Hasz, 6-3, 245, is at Arkansas now and Ashdown’s Shamar Easter, 6-5, 225, will sign on Feb. 1 and enroll in late May or early June.
The Hogs brought two tight ends in for official visits, but North Texas’ Jake Roberts headed to Baylor and Notre Dame’s Can Berrong chose Coastal Carolina. Tight end is a position Arkansas could look at add one from the transfer portal, but that is something interesting to see how it all plays out.
Pittman has already said he wants to take another offensive lineman from the transfer portal. He’s looking to add an interior offensive lineman who can play guard and center. After losing Luke Jones as well as Dalton Wagner it will be interesting to see if Pittman and Cody Kennedy also opt for an offensive tackle if the right one becomes available.
That should be about it on offense. The defense still has some holes to fill including defensive tackle and safety. It would appear the Hogs are in good shape at defensive end.
Expect the defensive emphasis though to be on finding at least one interior lineman and another safety or two. The Hogs would likely sign another linebacker if they found the right one and possibly another cornerback too.
Unless the Hogs have several players leave following spring drills this should be close to their upcoming needs in the portal. One thing to remember though is Arkansas isn’t any different than anyone else in that if a great player, regardless of position, wanted to come then they would likely take him.
Another thing to remember about the transfer portal sometimes you take a prospect who may not be an immediate need, but he’s young and someone that can be developed. Arkansas did exactly that with Charlotte offensive lineman Ty’Kieast Crawford who left following his freshman season. Crawford is expected to be a key member of Arkansas’ offensive line this fall. He started the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at right guard, but was injured on the first series and didn’t play the remainder of the game.