Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss recruiting to the 3-4 defense, Earle (Ark.) 2018 quarterback propect Gerry Bohanon and graduate transfer Scott Pagano.
“How has the 3-4 switch changed recruiting?” — Ned from Harrison via Twitter
Arkansas’ change in defensive philosophy only slightly changed what the coaching staff is looking for at a couple places: defensive line and outside linebacker.
The defensive line needs bigger bodies. Ideally, the Razorbacks want ends that can maintain athleticism while being between 275 and 300 pounds. At nose tackle, a bigger body is desired (definitely more than 300 pounds) to plug the middle, command double teams and help slow the running game. It’s less about finding recruits who are that size now, and more about finding prospects who can put on weight and remain effective.
In many ways, the 3-4 gives players who would be considered ‘tweeners in a 4-3 system a perfect positional fit. That’s no more evident than at outside linebacker, which is all about versatility. Coverage skills, pass-rushing ability, setting an edge to stop the run; all are essential. On Arkansas’ current roster, Randy Ramsey is the perfect example of an ideal player for the position. He is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and among the best athletes on the team.
I asked new outside linebackers coach Chad Walker last week if he seeks anything specific when recruiting outside linebackers. Click here to read what he said.
“With (Connor) Noland potentially getting drafted, what’s the chances of offering (Gerry) Bohanon at QB?” — TJD via Twitter
I don’t see Arkansas going after Bohanon to play quarterback. His skill set doesn’t fit what coaches want at the position. Plus, coach Bret Bielema is adamant about bringing in only one quarterback in each class. Noland will likely have signed with the Hogs before he is presented with a decision on professional baseball. He is eligible for the MLB First-Year Player Draft in the summer of 2018.
It’s a difficult situation for the Razorbacks with Noland and Bohanan being 4-star quarterbacks and the top in-state recruits in the class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
The Hogs want to keep elite in-state talent from going elsewhere. On the other hand, they probably can’t afford to use a second scholarship on a quarterback. They won’t be signing a large group in 2018 with only 12 scholarship seniors on the current roster. All available offers will be used for other areas of need.
That being said, if Bohanon decides he wants to play outside linebacker, the Hogs will gladly take him.
“What happened with (Scott) Pagano, the Clemson grad transfer?” — Anonymous direct message via Twitter
Pagano, a defensive tackle, cancelled his visit and is no longer considering a transfer to Arkansas. He narrowed his choices to Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Oregon. According to 247Sports, he will make a decision on April 14.
It’s an unfortunate miss. The Razorbacks could have used Pagano, likely at defensive end to start opposite McTelvin “Sosa” Agim.
Missing out on Pagano did result in junior college transfer Gabe Richardson getting a scholarship as soon as he arrives on campus. Richardson, an outside linebacker, was expected to blueshirt. He is expected to join the program this summer.