Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss what to expect going forward from each position in Arkansas’ 2018 recruiting class.
Arkansas has made significant progress in the last month with its 2018 recruiting class. The Hogs are up to nine commitments, with six of them coming between June 3 and 22.
Assuming the nine commits are locked in to sign, the group isn’t far from completion. The Razorbacks project to lose just 12 scholarship seniors after 2017. They also have two blueshirts from the 2017 class who will receive scholarships between now and December.
These numbers have currently projected the Razorbacks to sign 15 players in the class. Here’s a look at how I see things going at each position.
What’s left to be done on offense in Arkansas’ 2018 class?
The Razorbacks could be done with Connor Noland already committed. A 4-star recruit according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, the Greenwood (Ark.) High star will be signing with Arkansas in December.
However, the Hogs may not be done at quarterback just yet. They could get an added bonus if Earle (Ark.) 4-star prospect Gerry Bohanon chooses Arkansas. The main competition appears to be Baylor, Georgia, Louisville, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Arkansas will gladly take two if Bohanon comes on board. The Hogs will also be completely content with just Noland. It’s a win-win situation at the position right now.
Running back (1/1)
Keeping the commitment of 3-star prospect Jeremy Gibson from Louisiana is paramount at running back. If Arkansas gets a chance at a big-time prospect, it may find a way to make room for another. But signing only Gibson would be perfectly fine in this class with plenty of young talent on the current roster.
Wide receiver (0/0)
At this time, I can’t say I expect the Hogs to sign a wide receiver. They signed six in the 2017 class, all of whom have arrived on campus. That means a projected 12 scholarship receivers this season. Only one of those (Jared Cornelius) is a senior. That’s a lot for a team such as Arkansas. The Hogs could enter 2018 with 11 scholarship receivers and be in good shape.
Tight end (0/0)
I know a lot of Arkansas fans (and probably coaches) still have hope 4-star tight end Luke Ford will re-commit. I don’t expect that for the time being considering he has Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State and Illinois (his home state) among his top choices.
The other tight ends the Hogs have offered to this point are either committed elsewhere or aren’t showing interest. That’s surely somewhat in part because the Razorbacks had Ford secured for three months and didn’t feel pressed to look at other options.
I think they’ll be fine without signing one, though. If Ford comes back around, they’ll sign him. Otherwise, I don’t think they’ll view the position as a necessity. They have six tight ends (five scholarship) on the current roster. None of them are seniors this season. If Jeremy Patton arrives from junior college within the next few days as expected, the 4-star talent will add even more depth for the next two seasons.
Additionally, and maybe most importantly, the Razorbacks have an eye toward the position in 2019. Arkansas has already built a high level of mutual interest with Hudson Henry and Grayson Boomer, two of the top tight ends and overall recruits in the class. If they miss out on a tight end in 2018, they can likely make up for it with major talent in the next class.
Offensive line (1/3)
The offensive line group began to take shape with Jonesboro (Ark.) 3-star tackle Noah Gatlin announcing his pledge last week. With him committed, the Hogs are now looking to fill at least two more spots in the position group. They may go to as many as three if the numbers work out and the right prospect comes along.
Keep an eye on Jalynn Strickland from Georgia as the next possible commit. He’ll announce his decision on the Fourth of July. Luke Jones from Little Rock is also a strong candidate to commit within the next month or two.
What’s left to be done on defense in Arkansas’ 2018 class?
Defensive back (3/4)
Another group that could already be done, but I don’t think that’s the case just yet. I still think Ashdown (Ark.) 3-star LaDarrius Bishop will pick Arkansas and I expect the Hogs to make room for him. If it weren’t for Bishop being one of the top in-state recruits, I wouldn’t be expecting another defensive back.
I also think it helps that Bishop could transition from cornerback to safety if needed. Current commits Byron Hanspard II and Tanner McCalister look like true corners. Charleston (Ark.) 3-star athlete Sean Michael Flanagan is currently expected to play safety. He’s not locked in there, though, as he has the skills to be a wide receiver at the next level if needed.
Inside linebacker (1/1)
Bumper Pool is set to sign in December and enroll for the 2018 spring semester. The Hogs don’t need another with projected starters Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris expected to still be on campus for the 2018 season.
Outside linebacker (0/2)
This is a position, maybe more than any other on the roster, the Hogs need to bolster. Good outside linebackers are essential to the 3-4 defense, and the position is the biggest difference from the previous 4-3 scheme.
Of the linebackers on the 2017 roster, only freshman Kyrei Fisher was recruited with the idea of playing at the outside spot in a 3-4. This class provides a clear opportunity to go get a couple of players with the skill set for just that spot. And the thing about recruiting players at outside linebacker is they’re typically versatile enough to move to defensive line and/or inside linebacker and/or safety if needed.
The first outside linebacker to commit could come July 4 when 3-star Georgia prospect Thurman Geathers is expected to announce his pledge. DaShaun White and Maureese Wren, both from the Dallas area, are also potential options.
Defensive line (2/3)
The defensive line spots are nearly filled after picking up two commits (Emmit Gooden and Isaiah Nichols) last week. There’s a need for one more with Nicholas Fulwider, another Georgia recruit, being the top priority. He currently has no firm timetable for a decision, but Arkansas is definitely among his top choices. He’s already visited once and expects to do so again in the near future.
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