Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss recruiting improvements in the defensive backfield.
Arkansas landing higher-rated DBs since Paul Rhoads’ hiring
Whether Arkansas will see improved play in the defensive backfield during the next few seasons remains unknown. What is for certain, however, is the Razorbacks will feature more talent in the back end of the defense.
Since coach Bret Bielema hired Paul Rhoads as defensive backs coach in 2016, the Hogs have seen a noticeable recruiting uptick within the position group. Rhoads is still coaching the group despite his promotion to defensive coordinator last January.
In looking at Arkansas’ 2017 signees and 2018 commits at defensive back — nine total players — the average prospect rating comes to .8768 according to the 247Sports composite. Here’s the breakdown the 2017 signees and commits for 2018:
- 2018 (.8791): 4-star athlete Byron Hanspard II (.8957), 3-star cornerback Tanner McCalister (.8771), 3-star athlete Sean Michael Flanagan (.8646)
- 2017 (.8762): 4-star cornerback Chevin Calloway (.9357), 4-star safety Montaric Brown (.9317), 3-star athlete Kamren Curl (.8615), 3-star cornerback Jarques McClellion (.8493), 3-star cornerback Jordan Curtis (.8416), 3-star cornerback Korey Hernandez (.8372)
That’s quite a jump from the .8389 average among the 16 defensive backs signed in the first four classes under Bielema. Here’s the breakdown of those four classes:
- 2016 (.8312): 3-star safety Deon Edwards (.8488), 3-star cornerback Britto Tutt (.8367), 3-star safety Micahh Smith (.8080)
- 2015 (.8445): 3-star cornerback Nate Dalton (.8615), 3-star cornerback Willie Sykes (.8392), 3-star cornerback Ryan Pulley (.8326)
- 2014 (.8494): 3-star cornerback Henre’ Toliver (.8700), 3-star cornerback Chris Murphy (.8593), 3-star safety Santos Ramirez (.8481), 3-star safety Khalia Hackett (.8357), 3-star safety Josh Liddell (.8341)
- 2013 (.8306): 3-star cornerback Carroll Washington (.8785), 3-star safety Alex Brignoni (.8410), 3-star cornerback Melvinson Harfield (.8345), 3-star safety De’Andre Coley (.7995), 3-star safety Tiquention Coleman (.7993)
These numbers aren’t skewed by sample size, either. Calloway and Brown, both in the 2017 class, are by far the top defensive backs signed in the Bielema era. If Hanspard and McCalister sign in December as expected, they would be third and fifth on that list. Add Flanagan, who is also likely to sign in December, and six of the top eight defensive backs Bielema has signed at Arkansas will have been in the past two classes.
Sean Michael Flanagan bumped to a 4 star by Rivals
Speaking of Flanagan, he has been upgraded to a 4-star athlete according to Rivals. The 247Sports composite still has him as a 3 star. From Charleston, Ark., Flanagan projects to play safety for the Razorbacks.
It’s no surprise to see Flanagan receive an upgrade. Last week, I included him as one of five commits I thought would see their star rating rise. He’s now a 4-star prospect according to ESPN and Rivals. When 247Sports next updates their ratings, it’s likely Flanagan is bumped to 4 stars and potentially into the top 300 of the class.
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