FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Being a two-sport athlete in college is an incredibly difficult task, one that Arkansas commit Connor Noland says he’s up for.
Noland is a a 4-star quarterback in the Class of 2018, and he’s a standout right-handed pitcher from Greenwood (Ark.) High School. He committed Wednesday to play both football and baseball for the Razorbacks.
“It’s a challenge,” Noland said, “but I think it’s something I can do.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Noland is the state’s No. 2 football prospect and No. 1 baseball prospect for his class.
“(Arkansas) is getting a great player,” Greenwood football coach Rick Jones said. “The guy is a phenomenal athlete as a two-sport guy. He’s a kid of great character. He’s not afraid of hard work. He’s also got a great combination of confidence and humility that you just don’t find very often among kids his age. I just can’t say enough of about his attitude and the way he goes about his business. He’s a down-to-earth kid that’s been raised really well.”
Noland is the Razorbacks’ first football commit in the 2018 class. He’s an important commit for this class because the Razorbacks wanted to nail down a quarterback as early as possible.
“I just wanted to get it out of the way and really be able to focus on football for this season,” Noland said. “I wanted to find a place, commit a little bit early, and just focus on my junior year. We want to win a state championship, and I think me getting that out of the way really helps me focus and concentrate on these last two years for my team.”
Jones says Noland possesses great footwork in and out of the pocket as well as an exceptional arm. He’s expected to take on an expanded role as a junior at Greenwood this season.
“Last year was a situation where he did an amazing job, because what we do is not easy,” Jones said. “He was trying to translate everything that we talked about and it was all new language for him. I thought he had a phenomenal year, completing 68 percent of his passes. But he gets better and better and better all the time, too. He cares a lot about becoming the best that he can be, so I think he’ll be a totally different guy this year and he was pretty doggone good last year.”
Noland has stated his interest in Arkansas, at least from a football standpoint, came in large part because of his connection with offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
“He’s just a great coach,” Noland said. “I was able to go over things with him (this spring), he explained his offense and I really liked what he was teaching. He’s a great coach.”
After the Razorbacks’ football staff impressed him, Noland shifted his focus to the baseball program to see if Arkansas could set itself apart from the rest. With a fastball already topping out at 92 mph, Noland was also a top priority for Arkansas’ baseball class.
“It was a tough choice,” Noland said. “North Carolina, Northwestern and Tennessee were the other ones that I was really looking at, but Arkansas just pulled ahead after I met (pitching coach Wes Johnson). That went great. I enjoyed every second of it. He’s a brilliant guy who knows so much about pitching.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.