Arkansas’ 2018 recruiting class has 2 highly touted commits and nearly 100 offers extended.
The class will likely be small, yet it has a chance to bring in a high level of talent compared to recent classes.
Here are SEC Country’s 5 early predictions for the Razorbacks’ 2018 class.
Arkansas’ class will be small
The Razorbacks enter the start of spring practice on March 28 with 14 scholarship players exhausting their eligibility after the 2017 season. There’s likely to be more attrition through transfers and/or dismissals, but it’s unlikely more than 20 spots are free for 2018 signees.
Arkansas must free up a couple spots to get to the 85 scholarship limit in the fall. By my projection, the Hogs would be at 87 with the 2017 signees if no one else departs between now and then. Further complicating the numbers crunch are the 3 2017 blueshirts joining the program. Those players are promised scholarships, typically after their first semester on campus.
Expect Arkansas’ 2018 recruiting class to be smaller than most others in the SEC and around the country.
Bielema’s most 4-star or better
Even if the Razorbacks don’t bring in many players, there’s a strong chance the 2018 recruiting class will have more highly touted signees than any other under coach Bret Bielema.
Arkansas signed 7 recruits with at least a 4-star rating in the 2015 class, the most in Bielema’s 5 seasons. The Hogs already have a pair of 4-star commits — quarterback Connor Noland and linebacker Bumper Pool — in this class. Arkansas is expected to be on the short list for several other 4-star prospects.
Earle (Ark.) High School 4-star athlete Gerry Bohanon is the No. 2 in-state recruit behind Noland. He has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and other major programs, so competition to land Bohanon is stout. However, the Razorbacks’ coaching staff is doing everything it can to keep this talented prospect from leaving the Natural State. Bohanon is being recruited as both a quarterback and outside linebacker, the latter of which is more likely to be his college position.
Joe T. Robinson High School (Little Rock) athlete Nathan Page is another elite in-state recruit the Razorbacks should have a great chance to get. A defensive back and wide receiver, Page has slipped to a 3-star. He’s far too talented not to bumped back up to a 4-star once big-time offers start rolling in. Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe are his only FBS offers to date. Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas A&M are among other programs having expressed interest. Offers from those schools and Arkansas are likely to come soon.
That’s 6 4-star recruits that Arkansas has a great chance to land with National Signing Day more than 11 months away. Look for the Hogs to bring in a new high for 4-star players under Bielema.
DL help is coming
Help is coming on the defensive line from the 2018 class. Not necessarily because Arkansas is in deep with targets, but more because the Hogs have no choice.
If there was a position at which Arkansas could go a little thin for its 2017 recruiting class, it was defensive line. Still, only signing 3-star junior college tackle Melvin Johnson wasn’t ideal. Hogs coaches need bigger bodies to fill the interior line in their newly implemented 3-4 scheme.
They’d better start finding players in the 2018 class. Bijhon Jackson, a projected starter, will be gone after the 2017 season. Johnson joins the program as a upperclassman. McTelvin “Sosa” Agim is a strong candidate to depart for the NFL following the 2018 season. The Hogs must bring in at least a couple big bodies for the defensive front.
Noland becomes a Hog
There’s some worry among fans that Noland might sign with a Major League Baseball team out of high school. Rightfully so, considering he is a right-hander with a fastball topping out at 92 mph.
Noland is probably a lock to get drafted after his senior baseball season. Whether a team offers enough money to lure him away from college is the question.
Considering the amount of effort Noland is putting forth in recruiting others and how excited he seems at the possibility of joining the program, I see him becoming a Hog.
Only one RB
Running back is a focal point in every Arkansas recruiting class. It’s probably the coaching staff’s easiest position to recruit. Bielema has had at least 1 running back rush for more than 1,000 yards in his 11 seasons as a head coach. No other college coach can say that.
The Razorbacks have so much recent success recruiting the position, it’s possible they only bring in 1 running back in this class. They’ll have 7 scholarship running backs on the roster next season, none of which will be a senior. It’s possible Rawleigh Williams III leaves early for the NFL Draft, though coaches can’t bank on that right now. Even if he does, the need to bring in more than 1 running back recruit just isn’t there.
Other positions, notably defensive line, need more attention.
Click here for a look at some of the Razorbacks’ top running back targets in the class.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.