Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss the 2018 quarterback situation, the next most-likely commits and why recruits are holding Ole Miss in high regard.
“Has Arkansas put all its eggs in the QB basket with Noland or can they reel in Bohanon if the MLB draft swoops up Noland?” — Tucker Sayes via Twitter
Yes, for the time being, Greenwood (Ark.) 4-star Connor Noland is set to be the only quarterback Arkansas signs in the 2018 recruiting class.
Coach Bret Bielema has said several times he only intends to bring in one quarterback in each class. While it’s highly unlikely, I would say not to rule out the slight possibility of two in this class considering the situation you’re mentioning with Earle (Ark.) 4-star Gerry Bohanon is a pretty unique.
It’s a tough spot for the coaching staff having two such highly touted recruits at quarterback. If it were two 4-star in-state players at any other position, the Razorbacks would definitely want to sign both. But it’s not that they don’t want Bohanon. They most certainly do. Just not at quarterback, his preferred position. Bohanon recently said Arkansas is the only school not recruiting him at quarterback. It’s believed the Hogs are viewing him as an outside linebacker.
It comes down to this: Noland was the top guy on the board and his skill set fits the offense well. If the Hogs are only going to take one quarterback, it clearly makes the most sense for it to be Noland.
However, as you mentioned, there’s still the possibility of Noland signing to play professional baseball next summer. I have no doubts he’ll get drafted. A right-hander who also plans to play baseball at Arkansas, Noland has a fastball topping out at 92 mph and is an exceptional athlete by pitcher standards.
So it’s really about how high he’ll go. At this point, it’s impossible to say. The only thing that is known is it’ll have to be a lot of money for him to pass up his opportunity with Arkansas. That comes from Noland himself. He’s told me that several times.
I wouldn’t anticipate him ending up with such an offer, but you never know. And if he does opt for Major League Baseball after signing with Arkansas, it’s likely the Hogs are ultimately without a quarterback in the class.
“I’d like to see the top 5 most-likely commits as of now.” — Cheyne Manning via Facebook
Arkansas already has four commits — three of whom are 4-star recruits — in the 2018 class. That’s a great start by Razorbacks standards and there’s a chance they continue the momentum with a few more 4-stars on the radar.
Here are my five next most likely to commit in no particular order:
- Alston Orji, 4-star LB, Rockwall (Texas): Orji has long been one of the top priorities in this class with the Hogs offering him when he was a sophomore. The coaching staff has built a close relationship with him and have stayed in regular contact. As an outside linebacker, he’d be a perfect compliment to 4-star inside linebacker commit Bumper Pool.
- LaDarrius Bishop, 3-star CB, Ashdown (Ark.): It’d be a major surprise if Bishop doesn’t end up at Arkansas. His good friend and former teammate, safety Montaric Brown, signed in the Hogs’ 2017 class.
- Owen Condon, 3-star OL, Bishop McGuinness (Oklahoma City): Fresh off a visit to Fayetteville this spring, Condon has the Razorbacks high on his list of suitors. He expects to narrow his list soon and announce a commitment before his senior football season begins.
- Ken Montgomery Jr., 4-star CB, Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.): It seems things between Arkansas and Montgomery may have cooled off a bit lately. Especially after the Hogs landed a commitment from 4-star cornerback Byron Hanspard II last month. There’s definitely still interest from Arkansas, however, and Montgomery has been very fond of the Razorbacks for several months now.
- Tayland Humphrey, DT, Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College: Humphrey is an ideal fit at nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme. The Hogs have close connections to Humphrey, likely helping their case. Former Hutchison linebacker Gabe Richardson signed in the 2017 class. Alfred Davis, a former Razorbacks player and graduate assistant, is the new defensive line coach at Hutchinson.
“Why would a 5-star have Ole Miss in top 10 when they’re under investigation/sanctions?” — Jaime via Twitter
There are two highly touted recruits I have seen list Ole Miss on a list of top schools in recent months — 5-star Terrace Marshall and 4-star Al’vonte Woodard, both wide receivers.
Marshall listed the Rebels in his top 12 in January, and Woodard recently released a top 10 with them included. Both are Arkansas targets, though the Hogs were not among the schools on either list.
It’s puzzling to see Ole Miss in contention for any major recruits right now. The Rebels are facing charges from the NCAA of lack of institutional control and unsatisfactory oversight from coach Hugh Freeze. The school has already self-imposed a bowl ban and reduced scholarships, among other things. They’ve done so in hopes of lessening sanctions looming from the NCAA.
Why would a recruit want to sign up for that when they’ve got offers from other major programs? Well, is Ole Miss really in contention for these type of plays? I don’t think so.
Chances are Marshall and Woodard do like Ole Miss, maybe in particular what it has done with receivers lately (See: Laquon Treadwell and Donte Moncrief). But when it comes down to making a decision, I see almost no chance Ole Miss is picked by either of these prospects. There’s way too much trouble handing over the program.
The effects were already seen in the 2017 signing class, before the NCAA charges and self-imposed sanctions. Ole Miss signed just three 4-stars in February. This after signing at least six 4-star or higher recruits in each of the previous four classes.