FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ 2017 class is nearing completion with National Signing Day (Feb. 1) rapidly approaching.
The Hogs currently have 19 commits in the class and are expected to sign 23 to 25 total. The class is currently No. 19 nationally with 15 3-star and four 4-star commits. A few of those could have an immediate impact while many others will need to develop for a couple years before seeing playing time at Arkansas.
Here’s a look at SEC Country’s most important short- and long-term recruits in the class:
Short term: Koilan Jackson, 3-star wide receiver
The Hogs are losing four of their top five receivers to graduation after this season. In 2017, junior Jared Cornelius is clearly expected to become the leader of the unit. There’s uncertainty beyond him. Redshirt freshmen Deon Stewart and La’Michael Pettway have received praise from the coaching staff as capable future contributors. True freshman Jordan Jones, who is still eligible to redshirt this season, might have the highest expectations of any freshman on the roster according to the coaching staff. Wide receivers coach Michael Smith said last week he’s expecting Jones to be “a special player” at some point in his career.
The next receiver in the mix for significant playing time next season might very well be the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Jackson from Joe T. Robinson High School (Little Rock, Ark.). At that size, he’s already got the build to get on the field in the SEC. He’s also an exceptional runner with the physicality to be unbothered by defensive backs that use their hands well, a common theme in the SEC West. At the very least, Jackson gives Arkansas depth and a talent that can at least push for playing time right away.
Long term: Chase Hayden, 4-star running back
Hayden (5-10, 189) was one of the standouts at The Opening, a four-day showcase of the nation’s top prospects, last summer. From St. George’s Independent School (Collierville, Tenn.), Hayden committed to the Hogs shortly after impressing on the national stage. It was a big recruiting win for Arkansas considering he has offers from programs such as Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. Several other schools wanted him as a defensive back while Arkansas pursued him at running back, his preferred position.
The Hogs appear set at running back for at least the next couple seasons with standout starter Rawleigh Williams III only a sophomore. True freshman Devwah Whaley, a highly-touted recruit, has also emerged as a playmaker, and fellow true freshman T.J. Hammonds is a versatile talent that is loved by the coaching staff for his potential.
Because of the current depth, Hayden might be a candidate to redshirt next season. But coach Bret Bielema prefers to be three-deep at running back. So once Williams exhausts his eligibility, Hayden should be the most likely to step in and play behind Whaley and Hammonds then take over as the primary ball carrier once both depart.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.