Arkansas beating out Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and five other Power 5 Conference schools is a big win for the Hogs.
That’s precisely the case with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 4-star wide receiver Brandon Martin. The No. 2 receiver and No. 9 overall junior college prospect signed with Arkansas on Thursday afternoon. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds with a reported 40-yard dash time just under 4.4 seconds, Martin is bringing immense talent and optimism to Fayetteville.
While no recruiting victories of this caliber should be taken lightly, this one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Arkansas and Martin are the perfect match. The Louisiana native made the most-logical decision for his future.
Martin can benefit greatly from a reliable pocket passer like Austin Allen, who will be a senior next season. Allen is clearly the safest bet among the quarterbacks at schools in Martin’s final choices. It’s been a few years since LSU, where Martin initially signed out of high school, has had a competent passing attack. Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald is a solid player who is improving, but is much more of a runner than a thrower. Auburn is certainly going to be run-first with Sean White at quarterback. If former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham unseats White, it’s unknown how he’ll fair against an SEC West schedule.
On the flip side, the Hogs needed to add an SEC-ready target for next season. Two of Arkansas’ top three receivers — seniors Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan — are gone after this season. The other is junior Jared Cornelius, who could remain in the slot while Martin serves as a big target outside. If he matches the hype, Martin will fill a major void immediately.
Arkansas has recruited well at the position with five other commits in the 2017 class expected to play receiver. However, the addition of Martin can allow the Hogs to potentially avoid rushing the development of any of those players. That’s one of many reasons the coaching staff made two separate visits to Martin during the recent contact period. Head coach Bret Bielema, offensive coordinator Dan Enos and most notably wide receivers coach Michael Smith deserve a lot of credit for closing strong with Martin.
Whether Martin, who has three years of eligibility remaining, is a success on the field can only be decided on Saturday’s in the fall. For now, his signing should be viewed as a major success for both parties.