Arkansas signed 23 players in its 2013 recruiting class. The group was Bret Bielema’s first as the Razorbacks’ head coach. This class finished ranked No. 23 nationally and No. 9 in the SEC according to the 247Sports composite.
Here’s SEC Country’s re-grade of each player signed, with an overall grade for how the class panned out at the bottom.
(All recruiting ratings are based on the 247Sports composite.)
Alex Collins, 4-star RB
Summary: There hasn’t been a more productive player in the Bielema era at Arkansas. Alex Collins has his name all over the school record books, including the most rushing touchdowns in a season with 20 in 2015. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all three of his seasons, something only Darren McFadden and Herschel Walker have done in SEC history.
Other than Alabama Heisman winner Derrick Henry, Collins turned out to be the top running back recruit in the class.
Hunter Henry, 4-star TE
Summary: The poster boy for what is needed to thrive at tight end in today’s game, Hunter Henry had an outstanding Arkansas career. He won the 2015 Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end.
The 2013 tight end group produced several standouts, including O.J. Howard (Alabama), Jordan Leggett (Clemson) and Jake Butt (Michigan). Henry was as good or better than any in the class.
There are several similarities between the careers of Collins and Henry. Both declared for the NFL after three seasons. Both are widely considered the two most productive players of the Bielema era. And both, of course, played a significant role in the Hunter Heave — one of the most memorable plays in program history.
Denver Kirkland, 4-star OL
Summary: Denver Kirkland makes it three in a row on this list of guys who left for the NFL after three seasons, though that maybe wasn’t a great decision as he went undrafted. The Hogs also really could’ve used him in 2016.
Regardless, Kirkland had a productive career as a Razorback. He started 34 games at guard and tackle, playing a significantly role on one of the top offensive lines in the SEC during the 2014-15 seasons.
His departure to the NFL has worked out fine despite being undrafted. He signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders and played six games with four starts last season.
Austin Allen, 4-star QB
Summary: It’s hard to believe the Razorbacks’ current starting quarterback came in the same class as guys like Collins and Henry. Austin Allen ranked No. 20 among pro-style quarterbacks in the class. Of those ranked ahead of him, only Jared Goff (California) and Josh Dobbs (Tennessee) can claim they definitely had superior college careers.
But Allen isn’t done, and how he’ll ultimately be remembered as a Razorback largely hinges on this season. If not for very poor second-half performances against Missouri and Virginia Tech to end last season, his grade would have a strong case for being an A.
Brooks Ellis, 3-star LB
Summary: Brooks Ellis was seemingly always on the field during his four-year career in which he started 41 games. He was highly respected by his teammates and coaches, and was twice selected as a team captain. Arguably the best game of his career came last season at TCU. He recorded 3 tackles for loss and returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown in a 41-38 Hogs win. While not always flashy on the field, he was reliable.
More impressively than what Ellis did on the field was how he performed off it. He’s the only two-time academic All-American in program history and was a finalist for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is considered the “Academic Heisman” by many.
Carroll Washington, 3-star CB
Summary: Carroll Washington didn’t make a significant impact, though he was a regular contributor. The junior college transfer started four games as a senior in 2014 and had 35 career tackles. He missed out on what would have been the final game of his career, the 2014 Texas Bowl, for a violation of team rules.
Reeve Koehler, 3-star OG
Summary: Reeve Koehler never made it off the scout team as a player and ultimately opted to give up football after three seasons with the team. He graduated from Arkansas and never did anything to reflect negatively on the program.
Myke Tavarres, 3-star LB
Summary: Myke Tavarres was a talented junior college transfer who had a chance to play right away, but that never materialized. He spent just one seasons with the Razorbacks before transferring to Incarnate Word, an FCS program in San Antonio. He had a brief stint in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and has recently bounced around in the Canadian Football League.
Martrell Spaight, 3-star LB
Summary: Martrell Spaight, a junior college transfer, had an outstanding senior season in 2014 with the Hogs. He was a consensus first team All-SEC pick and had a conference-best 128 tackles. He’s the only Arkansas player ever to lead the SEC in tackles for a season. The Little Rock native saw action in 14 games with the Washington Redskins last season.
Dan Skipper, 3-star OT
Portfolio: One of Bielema’s favorite players during his time at Arkansas, Dan Skipper finished his career last season with 47 straight starts. He made 26 starts at left tackle protecting the blindside for Brandon and Austin Allen. He was a two-time All-SEC selection, three times the SEC offensive lineman of the week and once the SEC special teams player of the week.
Skipper’s ability to block field goals was an added bonus. He blocked seven in his career, just two short of the FBS record.
Damon Mitchell, 3-star QB
Summary: Damon Mitchell gave it every chance he could to make things work at Arkansas and it just never happened. He played quarterback, wide receiver and running back without ever finding a fit where he could get significant playing time. After graduating, he transferred to Rutgers last spring where he’ll play his final year of eligibility alongside his younger brother, Ahmir, at wide receiver in 2017.
De’Andre Coley, 3-star S
Summary: De’Andre Coley worked his way into regular playing time last season and showed promise, but was never exceptional. The best game of his career came in a loss to Alabama last October as he forced 2 fumbles, recovering 1. He expects to be featured regularly again as a senior in 2017 and can increase his final grade significantly with a good season.
Tevin Beanum, 3-star DE
Summary: Tevin Beanum saw regular playing time with 15 starts the last two seasons. He had 7 tackles for loss and 2 sacks as a sophomore, his best season with the Hogs. After bouncing in and out of the starting lineup for two years, Beanum gave up football six months ago for unspecified reasons.
Tiquention Coleman, 3-star LB
Summary: Another junior college transfer linebacker in this class, Tiquention Coleman didn’t do much of anything on the field. He started one game and recorded 6 tackles in his career.
Denzell Evans, 3-star RB
Summary: Denzell Evans spent his three years at Arkansas buried on the depth chart. He played only in blowouts with limited carries before transferring to Kansas before last season. He’ll be a senior for the Jayhawks in 2017 and projects to play only sparingly.
Korliss Marshall, 3-star RB
Summary: Korliss Marshall was consistently in and out of the mix at running back over two seasons at Arkansas, carrying the ball 41 times for his career. His best moment was a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in 2014 against Northern Illinois. However, he was dismissed from the team following that season after serving a suspension for a violation of university policy.
Melvinson Hartfield, 3-star WR
Summary: Arkansas flipped Melvinson Hartfield from Kansas State just days ahead of National Signing Day in 2013. His time as a Razorback didn’t last long, though, as he redshirted and left the program shortly following his first season on campus.
Johnathan McClure, 3-star OG
Summary: Johnathan McClure arrived at Arkansas as a two-time junior college All-American from Butler (Kan.) Community College. He was a scout-team reserve in 2014 and left the team before the 2015 season.
D.J. Dean, 3-star DB
Summary: D.J. Dean’s career fizzled out in the end as time spent away from the team and nagging injuries limited his impact as a senior last season. He was a solid contributor before that, tough, combining for 16 starts with 4 interceptions as a sophomore and junior.
Alex Brignoni, 3-star DB
Summary: Alex Brignoni struggled with a back injury as a freshman, which ultimately forced him to retire from football shortly after that season. He was one of there Fayetteville High School products to sign in this class along with Austin Allen and Ellis.
Ke’Tyrus Marks, 3-star DL
Summary: Ke’Tyrus Marks never made his way into the defensive line rotation before he transferred to Samford just prior to the 2016 season. He played regularly for the Bulldogs last season and is expected to do the same in 2017.
Drew Morgan, 2-star WR
Summary: The definition of an overachiever, Drew Morgan was one of the Hogs’ top playmakers each of the past two seasons. He ranks seventh on the school’s all-time receptions list (138), 15th in receiving yards (1,763) and 13th in receiving touchdowns (14). All that for a 2-star recruit from Greenwood, Ark.
Morgan appears to be doing his best to prove the projections wrong again at the next level. He’s already turned heads with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent.
Sam Irwin-Hill, 2-star P
Summary: The Australian averaged over 42 yards per kick on 104 punts as a two-year starter. He provided one of the best highlights of the 2014 season with a 51-yard touchdown run off a fake punt against Texas A&M. Irwin-Hill was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in April.
Overall Grade: B
It’s fair to say nine of the 23 players exceeded expectations with the chance for Coley to maybe join that list with a good senior season. That’s a high number for any class at any school. This class also played a major role in helping get the program back on track with several of these players having a key role in three straight bowl trips after a 3-9 season in 2013.
The problem is for every Morgan there was seemingly a player like Hartfield who made no measurable impact. That keeps this grade from being higher, and likely hindered the Razorbacks from making even greater improvements from Bielema’s first season.