Arkansas officially flipped its recruiting calendar toward 2018 last week after National Signing Day for the 2017 class.
Thanks in large part to the work done in the 2017 class, the Razorbacks’ coaching staff already has a significant jump-start on pursuing 2018 recruits. The Hogs secured commitments from 18 of their 24 signees before last August. Two others committed in December and enrolled at the midterm.
As a result, Arkansas’ staff was able to spend the past several months working to keep most of the 2017 commits locked in rather than looking to evaluate and offer many others. This allowed for more time to evaluate, offer and build relationships for the next class.
Further helping the Hogs’ chances at landing a stellar class in 2018 are their two current commits. Greenwood (Ark.) High School quarterback Connor Noland and Lovejoy High School (Lucas, Texas) linebacker Bumper Pool — both 4-star prospects — have turned into recruiters since committing.
“There’s a potential there,” Noland recently told SEC Country. “The stars are lining up, hopefully. There’s definitely an opportunity for us to get up in the top 10 (nationally) for recruiting.”
Noland said several highly-touted prospects are in his crosshairs to potentially join him on the Razorbacks’ commit list. First and foremost is 4-star cornerback Ken Montgomery Jr. from Tampa, Fla.
“He’s a really big one for us,” Noland said. “He’s one of the ones we really want to pick up.”
DeSoto (Texas) High School 3-star athlete Byron Hanspard II, Warner Robins (Ga.) High School 4-star offensive lineman Christian Armstrong and Ridge Point High School (Missouri City, Texas) 4-star tight end Mustapha Muhammad are among the others Noland has taken up recruiting.
“I think it’s definitely helpful,” Noland said of his recruiting efforts. “I think it gives things a different aspect to it. Most programs maybe don’t have commits calling other guys and texting them every day giving them insight. I’m getting in touch with our guys every day letting them know this or that happened. I think that’s different. Most guys aren’t used to it, so they might think it’s kind of weird, but I think it’ll definitely help them make their decision.”
Noland and Pool give the Razorbacks an average player rating of .9231 in the 2018 class, according to the 247Sports composite. Maintaining that average is highly unlikely as more commits are added — only four programs finished with a better average in the 2017 class. However, it is currently good enough for 12th nationally and third in the SEC.
Bielema said last week he believed the 2017 class to be the best he’d signed at Arkansas. Based on the start to the 2018 class, that may not be the case for very long.