Welcome to SEC Country’s Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss the greatest needs in the 2019 class, the weekend visitors and if any might commit, the Hogs’ chances at a top quarterback target and more.
If you had to identify the biggest position of need to be addressed within the 2019 class, what would it be?
— Trey Ballard (@trey3ballard) February 21, 2018
For me, it’s the offensive line. Arkansas is going to lose three projected starters — Hjalte Froholdt, Johnny Gibson and Brian Wallace — after the 2018 season. The Hogs added seven scholarship players along the offensive line over the past two classes, and all are promising if they can be developed. That certainly will help from a depth standout, but adding a couple of impressive offensive linemen is at the top of the list for this class.
Fortunately for the Razorbacks, they don’t have to go very far to find some top offensive linemen. Arkansas has its best group of in-state offensive line recruits in years with Darius Thomas (Jonesboro) and Stacey Wilkins (Camden Fairview) at the top of that list.
Thomas is rated as a 4-star prospect on the 247Sports composite. Wilkins is rising quickly toward that same status with offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and several other Power 5 schools. He is scheduled to be on campus this weekend. If the Hogs can sign both, the class will be in great shape on the offensive front.
A) can we get a list of who is coming to campus this weekend? B) should we be expecting a commit or two?
— 75” tall, 239 pounds (@SeldomQualms) February 21, 2018
Click here for the list of some of the top visitors this weekend. It’s not necessarily the full list, just those that I have confirmed are expected to be on campus.
Among the visitors, I have defensive end Zach Williams on commitment watch. He’s making his second visit to campus in two weeks, and he picked up an offer during his most recent trip.
Williams’ father, Rickey, played linebacker for Arkansas (1984-87) and ranks No. 8 on the school’s career tackles list. Williams himself has a chance to be a special player. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds with a 4.57-second 40-yard dash, 36-inch vertical and 82-inch wingspan. As he continues to grow and develop, he has the tools to become a dominant defensive end.
The next most likely possible commit would be Wilkins, but I’m not expecting that to happen just yet. I think his recruitment could take some time and the Hogs will really be challenged to keep him in the state.
Regardless of any commitments, the list of expected visitors this weekend is a very promising sign for what Chad Morris can do at Arkansas. It can be very difficult to get top recruits on campus in Fayetteville, and the new staff is doing a remarkable of job of accomplishing that.
Why do you think Morris and Co. are pursuing so many QBs? Are they prepping in case Noland goes to the MLB or just trying to get competition? — Dalton Adams via email
Several factors that have Morris and his staff putting a strong emphasis behind recruiting several quarterbacks.
For those that don’t know, Arkansas signed two in the 2018 class — Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones. They are also going to sign at least one in the 2019 class, even though none of the five projected scholarship quarterbacks on the roster next season will be seniors. Projected is the key word to keep in mind, though.
If I were to bet on it, I would go against all five being on the roster next season or after next season. As you mentioned, Noland signing to play professional baseball is one possibility that could trim the number to four. Based on conversations I’ve had with him and his family, I don’t currently expect Noland to forgo college, even though he is a very impressive pitcher who should get drafted. But the family has an open mind about it, so we’ll see how things shake out this spring and summer for him.
A more likely possibility would be a transfer from one of the current quarterbacks. I’m not claiming to have any inside information here, just saying I’d bet on someone looking for a new opportunity once the starter is named.
Morris has said he wants to have five scholarship quarterbacks on the roster entering each season. He’s got that now, and I believe he’s using some foresight to recruit in a way that will help him maintain that number.
Any possibility of a few transfers out of the football program?
— Ya Boy (@oledavis20) February 22, 2018
I mentioned the possibility of a quarterback transfer in the above question, but I don’t think that’s the only position that could have departures. Spring practices will be a great indicator for certain players to see how they fit under the new coaching staff. I feel confident some of them will find they aren’t a fit for the transition and head elsewhere. I’m not confident enough to say who those players might be at this time. It’s just usually the way it goes.
From a recruiting perspective, transfers would open up scholarships for the 2019 class. That would likely be far from a bad thing considering how strong the class has a chance to be for Arkansas.
We have a real chance w/Gunnell?
— Jaime 🧐 (@AzrielWynge) February 21, 2018
Absolutely, the Hogs are in the running for 4-star 2019 quarterback Grant Gunnell. It’s really tough to predict much more than that with his recruitment right now, though. I get the impression he still has so many things he wants to see and hear before narrowing his choices down to just a few schools. He’s just taking everything in right now after de-committing from Texas A&M.
But I believe Arkansas has as strong of a chance as any school to be right there at the end with a chance to get his commitment. This spring and summer are going to be big for him as he aims to have a decision before the start of his senior season at St. Pius X (Houston). Arkansas is expected to be among the many visits he takes during that time, so we’ll know more about the Hogs’ chances after that.
To submit a question for recruiting mailbags, email Shadid13@gmail.com or send a message to @Shadid13 on Twitter.