SEC Country reporter Trent Shadid will answer your Arkansas Razorbacks football recruiting questions each weekday in our recruiting question of the day mailbag. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs, @Shadid13 or by email to Trent at Shadid13@gmail.com. To view prior answers to our questions, click here.
Recruiting question of the day: Friday, April 13, 2018
We saw a small sample of the impact on defensive recruiting John Chavis had with the Dorian Gerald situation. Assuming the defense is improved as it appears to be and that translates to the regular season. How do you project we do recruiting defense with a full cycle AND Chavis?
— Barclay Grady (@TheHogWildTruth) April 9, 2018
Arkansas’ 2018 class indeed had a very strong close on the defensive side. That really started before John Chavis was even hired as defensive coordinator.
Coach Chad Morris made Courtre Alexander (DE), Ladarrius Bishop (CB), Billy Ferrell (DT), Nicholas Fulwider (DE) and Myles Mason (S) top priorities almost immediately after taking the job in early December. Arkansas signed them all.
Once Chavis arrived in January, the Hogs heavily recruited and eventually signed Joseph Foucha (DB), Dorian Gerald (DE) and Andrew Parker (LB). Gerald was a particularly significant recruiting victory. He is expected to make an immediate impact as the top junior college defensive end in the class, according to ESPN. Arkansas had no chance at signing him without Chavis.
When the 2018 class was finished, the Hogs had signed five defensive recruits rated .8700 or higher by the 247Sports composite. That distinction is essentially the benchmark for being at least a high-end 3-star recruit. The five signed were two more than any of the five classes during the Bret Bielema era. Four of those five players were brought in only after the coaching change following last season.
So, it’s reasonable to expect an uptick in defensive recruiting with Chavis now on the job for a full cycle. If he can do what he did with the 2018 class in such a short time, he should be able to do that and more with involvement from the beginning of the 2019 cycle. I believe it’s a fair expectation to say the Hogs should sign at least another five defensive recruits that hit the .8700 benchmark in this class.
It may take a while for that to become evident, though. Chavis has been known as a very strong closer when it comes to signing top recruits. According to 247Sports, five of the top six recruits Chavis has ever signed didn’t commit until November or later in their recruiting cycle. With that in mind, it’s probably wise to hold off judging Chavis for having just one defensive commit (DB Malik Chavis, who is not highly rated) in the 2019 class at this time.
I know some fans have expressed concern over John Chavis’ age when it comes to recruiting. He’s 61 and in his 39th year of coaching, so it’s a fair question to wonder if he still has the passion to recruit. Based on everything I’ve gathered, I don’t believe that’s a legitimate concern.
In December, I went to the signing party for 2018 linebacker Bumper Pool. Chavis hadn’t been hired at the time, but the writing was on the wall for that to happen. So, I asked Pool’s parents for their thoughts about the possibility of their son playing for Chavis.
Both of them, Jeff and Laurie, said getting Chavis as a coordinator would be a dream scenario. Jeff recalled when Chavis had brought he and Bumper into his office at Texas A&M the summer before Bumper’s junior year at Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas) High School. Chavis sat down and said, “You all are my priority for as long as you want to be. Ask anything you want.” That doesn’t sound to me like a coach who has checked it in on the recruiting trail.
While I’m on this topic, it’s worth noting that Arkansas coordinators (Chavis and Joe Craddock) are more active in recruiting than most. That’s because Morris believes that to be part of the staff, a coach has to recruit. That is definitely not the case everywhere. A lot of programs give coordinators a lighter load in recruiting than most of the position coaches.
To view prior answers to our questions, click here.