Trent Shadid/SEC Country
Wide receiver Jadon Jackson is one of Arkansas' top targets in the 2019 class.

Arkansas recruiting mailbag: Analyzing the 2019 class and commits visiting elsewhere

Trent Shadid

Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss the 2019 class, commits visiting elsewhere and fan overreactions on Twitter.

Let’s say the sky falling means Arkansas loses several more games this season in embarrassing fashion (See TCU), misses a bowl game and Bret Bielema gets fired.

If that happens, would it hurt Arkansas’ chances at landing most of the top recruits in a loaded 2019 in-state class?

I honestly don’t think so. Whoever the new coach would be in that case would surely make those players — such as Treylon Burks (4-star WR), Hudson Henry (4-star TE), Darius Thomas (4-star OL) and Jadon Jackson (3-star WR) — his top recruiting priority. I can’t image any coach coming in and ignoring such talent.

It also seems likely Barry Lunney Jr. would be retained on the staff. He’s a Bielema guy, but more than that, he’s an Arkansas guy. I’m not saying he’ll be in Fayetteville forever, but what new coach wouldn’t want to retain an ace in-state recruiter like Lunney? Especially if it’s someone not from Arkansas. They’d need that local influence. If he stays, the recruits likely don’t have their opinion of Arkansas altered all that much. To this point, he’s been the coach that has dealt with each of them the most by far.

So, yes, even in the worst case for this season, I think Arkansas still has a great chance at getting its top in-state targets in a stacked 2019 class.

As I mentioned in the previous answer, the in-state group for 2019 is loaded. Burks, Henry, Jackson and Thomas are all top-300 recruits. Burks and Henry may even push for 5-star status if they’re active at camps this summer.

Getting those four in-state guys is essential. I think there’s also a good chance as many as another four or five in-state recruits develop into SEC-level talents. So, that’s potentially eight or nine players within the state that many Power 5 schools will be after. That would be an outstanding group by Arkansas standards. Getting all of them automatically gives the class a chance to be the Razorbacks’ most talented within the past 20 years.

Things also look good outside the state early on. Palmer Ridge (Monument, Colo.) quarterback Ty Evans is the only commit in the class. He’s currently a high-end 3-star prospect who will likely be a 4-star by this time next year.

There’s also early mutual interest with Devonta Lee (4-star WR), Grayson Boomer (4-star TE), Brian Williams (5-star S) and Anthony Orji (4-star OLB/S). Lee is from Louisiana, Boomer from Oklahoma, and Williams and Orji from the Dallas area — all critical recruiting regions the Hogs have done well in recently. Getting all four of those players is highly unlikely, but even getting just one could help take this class to a level Arkansas hasn’t seen in a long time.

I’m guessing this pertains to defensive tackle commit Emmit Gooden planning to visit Oklahoma this weekend. Gooden told me Wednesday he has no intentions of de-committing from Arkansas. He explained it simply as a trip with his friend and teammate Tramonda Moore, who is committed to OU. He also said he knows nothing being considered de-committed if he makes the trip.

At this time, it’s unclear exactly how Arkansas will handle it. Until I hear something on that end, I can’t make a firm judgement. I can guarantee a conversation between Gooden and the staff will be had about the situation soon, if it hasn’t already happened.

If he does make the trip and Arkansas makes an exception to its no-visit policy, allowing him to stay committed, I do think it sets the wrong precedent. The reason being, Gooden has already visited Oklahoma. Almost all the exceptions are made for commits to get free trips — official visits are paid for by the school — with their families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such travel. Those exceptions make sense. An exception for Gooden wouldn’t. Besides, this wouldn’t be an official visit.

Bret Bielema didn’t make an exception for 4-star tight end Luke Ford this summer when he wanted to visit other schools and remain committed. I doubt he does for Gooden. However, there’s a chance the staff sees it as a harmless trip with a friend and gives it the OK. That would be the wrong assumption considering the Sooners view Gooden as their top defensive line target.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens through the weekend.

I think this is a case-by-case thing. Some recruits do take into account how fans act on Twitter as a serious representation of the program. I’ve heard stories of prospects no longer considering a school because of crazy fans on social media. Seriously.

But I’m not sure Arkansas being 1-1 right now and fans “going nuts” on Twitter has any impact. Most recruits get it. A team losses and fans are fed up. It happens. These athletes understand that.

Most of the negative impact with this type of thing comes from direct and/or personal interaction with recruits. That’s not really the case with fans up in arms about the current team.

To submit a question for recruiting mailbags, email or send a message to @Shadid13 on Twitter.