FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas signed nine prospects during the early signing period.
Considering Sam Pittman was just on the job since Dec. 8 it’s amazing the Hogs closed like they did. Pittman managed to retain the three in-state players and get Memphis (Tenn.) Central four-star wide receiver Darin Turner, 6-3, 206, back in the fold.
The Hogs signed a running back, one wide receiver (assuming Turner plays there and not safety), an offensive lineman, two defensive linemen, three linebackers and a defensive back.
In addition, Arkansas has three commitments who didn’t sign in December. The Knoxville (Tenn.) West pair of defensive end Tyrece Edwards, 6-3, 240, and linebacker Drew Francis, 6-2, 200, are scheduled to visit Arkansas the Jan. 17-19 weekend. Phenix City (Ala.) central defensive back Mike Harris, 5-11, 180, has already visited.
With what Arkansas has now what are they seeking in the late period?
“You know I have had a chance to look at our roster,” Pittman said Wednesday. “Obviously I would be lying to you if I was as indepth understanding our roster as much as I need to, but I don’t really want to say in all respect to all the players we have right now this particularly early signing period we were just going after the best players at any position that we could get. We wanted them to be good kids and love Arkansas, but we were just going after who we liked off of film to be honest with you.
“I think starting tomorrow and on Friday I think we’ll get a little more indepth on what we have. To be honest with you I know what we have. We have watched a lot of tape on current players. I talked to all 80 something on the team on Monday and Tuesday, but I would rather not go into detail what we’re going after. I think you guys know what we need and we do too.”
Pittman also talked about the numbers in this class and if he has room for 25 new additions.
“We do,” Pittman said. “I tell you this, we’re going to sign as many good players as we can. But I tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to sign 25 and five of them we’re not doing somersaults for. We’re going to sign good football players and good people, and if the number ends up at 18, then we’ll be fine with it. If it ends up at 22, then we’ll be fine with it. But we’re going after people that we like, and we’re going after them obviously in positions of need. But we’re not going to stretch here. We obviously could have had a few more in this class, but we wanted the guys that were signed today.
“I’m not telling you we didn’t want some other guys that may have went somewhere else. I’m not saying that. But the ones we have currently on the roster are the ones that we wanted.”
When recruiting at times coaches go for immediate help and other times they project down the road.
“Well, I want to get the best players in America because as y’all know, I truly believe that Arkansas is the best place in America,” Pittman said. “I believe that, and so this next go around, there may be some guys that we’re going, ‘Hey, this guy’s a little light but has got great feet,’ or we may go that way a little bit more, we might not, but we’re basically trying to recruit guys that we think can come in here and challenge for a position early in their career.”
Pittman is a former offensive line coach so he knows the need for players at that position. Also is running back a need in this class?
“There is always a need for both of those positions,” Pittman said. “I don’t know if there will ever be a year that we don’t want to take at least four offensive linemen and a couple of backs. They’re valuable to our football team. We probably won’t over-sign at either one of those positions, but we will probably take at least four offensive linemen and possibly two backs.”
How could the numbers look come Feb. 5? Here’s a projection on how, right now, it looks like Arkansas could end up in February.
Quarterback — The projection is likely one though they could sign two. The Hogs currently have three scholarship quarterbacks. A name to watch here is Loganville (Ga.) Grayson four-star (ESPN) quarterback CJ Dixon, 6-5, 215. He is rated a pocket passer on ESPN, but is a dual-threat on Rivals.com. He holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Maryland and many others.
Running Back — The Hogs signed Crowley (Texas) High School’s Dominique Johnson, 6-0, 220, on Wednesday. He was previously committed to Missouri. It seems likely the Hogs will seek a second back in this class.
Wide Receiver — Assuming Turner plays wide receiver it’s likely the Hogs add one or two more. Pittman and Justin Stepp have seen former Arkansas commitment Savion Williams, 6-5, 200, from Marshall (Texas) High School.
Tight End — Arkansas had two committed and both opted to reopen their recruiting once Chad Morris was fired. It’s very important the Hogs add one and maybe even two in this class. It appears neither McKinney (Texas) North’s Brandon Frazier, 6-7, 247, or Crockett (Texas) High School’s Allen Horace, 6-4, 250, have signed early so Hogs could still pursue them. Stepp reached out to Frazier earlier.
Offensive Line — Arkansas signed Memphis White Station offensive tackle Ray Curry Jr., 6-5, 315, early. They are trying to land Memphis University School’s Marcus Henderson, 6-4, 310, St. Louis (Mo.) Trinity Catholic’s Jalen St. John, 6-3, 300, and Conway’s Robert Scott, 6-6, 295, in the late period. There’s others, but those three are known to be very high priorities for Arkansas.
Defensive Line — Arkansas signed Hazen’s Blayne Toll, 6-5, 244, and East Mississippi Community College defensive end Julius Coates, 6-6, 270, early. As noted they have a commitment from Edwards. They will bring Lexington (Miss.) Holmes County Central defensive tackle Montra Edwards, 6-3, 293, in for an official visit on Jan. 17-19. He’s also visiting Missouri and Maryland following his trip to Arkansas. Arkansas will also bring Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County defensive end Jaqualin Mcghee, 6-4, 255, in for a visit in January. Arkansas could add another name or two to the visit list in coming weeks.
Linebacker — Arkansas signed Bryant’s Catrell Wallace, 6-5, 210, Jonesboro’s Jashaud Stewart, 6-2, 223, and Harvey (La.) Helen Cox’s Kelin Burrle, 6-0, 205, in the early period. Francis is committed and will visit Jan. 17-19. Arkansas could look to add an older linebacker as well.
Defensive Back — Arkansas got one of the nation’s best early when Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School’s Myles Slusher, 6-0, 181, inked with them over Nebraska, Oregon and UCLA. Arkansas will bring Suffield Academy (Conn.) cornerback Khari Johnson, 6-0, 184, in on Jan. 17-19. Arkansas is also showing interest in Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist cornerback Tanner Hooker, 5-11, 170. He was committed to Kansas but has decommitted. A couple of defensive backs who officially visited Arkansas earlier are Spring (Texas) Klein Oak cornerback Dwight McGlothern, 6-2, 180, and New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin defensive back Nick Turner, 5-11, 177. It’s likely the Hogs try to sign at least two or three more defensive backs to go with Slusher. Harris is also committed here. Johnson seems likely to jump on board with the Hogs when he visits. McGlothern would be a huge get as would Turner.
More names will be added to Arkansas’ wishlist in coming days and weeks.