Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. This time, we discuss an influx of 4-star defensive backs and a new assistant who is impressing in recruiting.
Hanspard the latest 4-star DB pledging to Arkansas
Arkansas’ 2016 roster did not feature a defensive back that entered the program rated higher than a 3-star recruit, based on 247Sports’ composite rankings.
That’ll change in 2017 when 4-star signees Montaric Brown and Chevin Calloway join the program. For the 2018 class, the Hogs have already landed the commitment of a 4-star defensive back with cornerback Byron Hanspard II announcing his pledge Wednesday.
So, what’s with the sudden ability to land higher-rated talent in the defensive backfield?
A lot of credit has to be directed toward the pedigree of defensive backs coach, and now defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads. He’s coached six defensive backs who have been selected in the NFL draft, including seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis while at Pittsburgh. Prior to joining Arkansas as defensive backs coach in 2016, Rhoads spent 16 consecutive seasons as a defensive coordinator or head coach at the Power 5 level. Not many, if any, defensive back coaches around the country have a résumé that compares. It’s undoubtedly no coincidence all three of the recent 4-star prospects committed after Rhoads arrived.
There’s also an undeniable regional impact. Brown is a safety from Ashdown, Ark., and the top-rated 2017 in-state prospect. Under coach Bret Bielema, the Hogs have been highly efficient at bringing in all the top Natural State prospects they offer. Much of that success is a credit to tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr.
But there hasn’t been many elite-level defensive backs from Arkansas in recent years. Brown is the first 4-star or better defensive back from the state since 5-star West Helena, Ark., cornerback Darius Winston, a former Razorback, in the 2009 class.
Calloway and Hanspard are both Dallas-area products. The Razorbacks are starting to develop deeper pipelines in the area with linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves leading those efforts.
Hanspard is one of two 4-star recruits from a Dallas suburb, along with linebacker Bumper Pool, committed in the 2018 class. A handful of other prospects in the class from the area have the Hogs high on their list of choices.
Not bringing in enough 4-star or better recruits is a consistent complaint among Razorback fans, oftentimes claiming 3-star prospects won’t get it done against SEC competition. Now, at least at defensive back, it appears that excuse won’t hold water in the coming seasons.
QB commit Noland tosses 1-hitter
Arkansas 2018 quarterback commit Connor Noland pitched a 1-hit complete game for Greenwood (Ark.) on Thursday night.
Noland carried a no-hitter in the seventh-and-final inning. He had 12 strikeouts and drove in the only run of the game as Greenwood topped El Dorado (Ark.), 1-0. The right-hander is also committed to pitch for the Razorbacks.
Noland (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is a 4-star quarterback recruit who pledged to play both sports for the Razorbacks last summer. His fastball — one of his four pitches — tops out at 92 mph.
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