Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has assembled his second-consecutive top-25 recruiting class and his third top-25 class in four seasons in Fayetteville, Ark.
Bielema appeared pretty satisfied when he spoke to the media on National Signing Day. Here are five things Bielema said about his Class of 2016:
In the SEC, quantity matters. Arkansas’ class currently features 20 signees with the potential for more when the class is fully assembled. This may not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that Arkansas’ entire 2015 class featured only 25 enrollees.
“At this time a year ago we were looking at a class of 13, 14 guys,” Bielema said according to Gatehouse Media’s Eric Bolin. “We landed on 20 right now and not done yet.”
No, the Razorbacks might not be finished yet. There’s still the possibility of landing some late signees, walk-ons and transfers. Bielema hinted more members of the Class of 2016 could be on the way.
“These senior transfers are very, very intriguing,” Bielema said according to Bolin.
Stay tuned for more information on those transfers, Hogs fans.
Beefing up the trenches
Bielema admitted that bolstering the defensive line was one of Arkansas’ top priorities during this recruiting season. Bielema did just that by inking four players who could make an impact along the defensive line.
One of those incoming linemen is truly a headliner. Five-star defensive end McTelvin Agim is a homegrown recruit and the second-best defensive end in the country. Bielema said the early enrollee should make an immediate impact in Fayetteville, Ark.
“We needed immediate help at the defensive line,” Bielema said according to Bolin. “McTelvin Agim has proven to us he can play right away.”
Agim isn’t the only talented defensive lineman joining the Razorbacks in 2016. Austin Capps and Briston Guidry are both top-300 players coming to Fayetteville. Capps is rated as the No. 24 defensive tackle and Guidry the No. 31 defensive tackle. Bielema said Capps might not start, but he is certainly a talented prospect.
“Don’t know if Austin Capps can come in and play right away, but we know he’s big, tough, physical,” Bielema said according to Bolin.
Bielema also seemed pretty excited to add Guidry to this class.
“Briston Guidry has been a fun recruiting story,” Bielema said according to Bolin. “He came through in a big way in committing to us.”
Bielema plans on utilizing his versatile back
A name to know entering the 2016 season might be T.J. Hammonds. Why’s that? Because Hammonds may be all over the field during his freshman season.
The No. 13 athlete in the country can play running back, wide receiver and contribute on special teams. Bielema was excited about Hammonds’ diverse skillset and said he plans on putting Hammonds in all of those positions throughout the upcoming season.
“T.J. Hammonds could probably play five positions,” Bielema said according to Bolin. “We’re going to start him off at running back, slot receiver, punt returner.”
Get to know Hammonds quickly. He could be a handful for opponents this season.
Quarterback of the future?
The Razorbacks will have a tough task in replacing quarterback Brandon Allen in 2016. They may have a potential option in three-star quarterback Cole Kelley.
Bielema was enticed by Kelley’s impressive 6-foot-7, 230-pound stature. He also said his new quarterback has a cannon of an arm.
“We always talk about we want to be big,” Bielema said according to Bolin. “How about a quarterback, Cole Kelley is 6-foot-7, 260 (pounds). (Offensive coordinator) Dan (Enos) really felt strong about him. He throws the ball 100 miles. Great velocity. Great touch.”
Kelley could be a guy to watch in spring ball and perhaps could earn the starting role as a freshman with a strong camp.
Bielema had some candid remarks earlier in the day during an interview on ESPN2 about SEC rivals Florida and Ole Miss.
“Florida, kind of the new Ole Miss, they’re doing some things in recruiting that just kind of shocks you a little bit,” Bielema said.
After a bit of backlash around college football circles, Bielema clarified that his statement was a compliment toward both programs. He also joked that he wouldn’t pay another team a compliment again.
“I was paying (a) compliment to Florida,” Bielema said according to Bolin. “We’ve seen them kind of pop up everywhere.”
It wouldn’t be signing day without a controversial quote from Bielema.