The recruiting cycle has its unofficial holidays. There’s The Opening finals taking place right now. There’s also the three-day window for junior college, and now for high school players, to sign in December. And, of course, there’s National Signing Day in early February. Arkansas, like most Power Five programs, has reason to celebrate these days.
The Razorbacks’ 2018 class may have an additional day to celebrate — July 4. I know, most Arkansas coaches, fans and players will be celebrating Independence Day regardless. But there may be an added bonus. The Hogs could land the commitment of two Georgia-based recruits at positions of need.
Outside linebacker Thurman Geathers and offensive lineman Jalynn Strickland (both 3-star recruits according to the 247Sports composite) are set to announce their commitment decisions Tuesday. Arkansas is a contender to get at least one if not both. Then there’s the possibility the Hogs get neither. That’s the thrill of recruiting.
Defensive line coach John Scott Jr., who was hired in February, has been the primary recruiter of both players as he is for most Georgia recruits. The Hogs are yet to get a commit from the Peach State in the class. It’s an area they want to have a consistent presence in, though, so Tuesday could be a major success for Scott.
Here’s what the commitment, or non-commitment, of each player would mean for the Razorbacks.
Thurman Geathers to Arkansas?
From North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Ga., Geathers is what Arkansas is looking for in an outside linebacker. He’s 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and has the athleticism to be a consistent pass-rushing mismatch for offensive tackles at the next level. In his junior season at North Cobb, Geathers had 77 tackles and 15 sacks as a defensive end.
If he chooses Arkansas, the class would have its first commitment at outside linebacker. That’d be a relief as much as anything. With a new December signing window for high school recruits, the Hogs are trying to get ahead of the game. The coaching staff wants to have as many spots locked up as possible when fall camp for the 2017 season begins in late July. An early signing window makes things more pressing. Especially when you consider coach Bret Bielema expects to have most of the class signed at that time. It’s likely the Hogs hope to snag two outside linebackers in the class, so locking one into a spot in early July would be nice.
If Geathers chooses one of his other top choices — Indiana, Louisville or North Carolina State — the Hogs will shift to securing a commitment from other options. DaShaun White and Maureese Wren, both 3-stars from the Dallas area, are a couple others at the top of the wish list. Expect those two to remain possibilities even if Geathers picks Arkansas, though.
Jalynn Strickland to Arkansas?
At 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, Strickland has the ideal build to play offensive tackle at the next level. He’s an exceptional run blocker, which fits into Arkansas’ style of offense. Ware County (Waycross, Ga.) rushed for 206 yards per game last season with Strickland helping lead the way.
If Strickland picks the Razorbacks, their offensive line group in the class will be in a good spot. Jonesboro (Ark.) 3-star Noah Gatlin committed last month, becoming the first to do so within the position group. The Hogs are also the favorite to land Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.) 3-star Luke Jones. He’s expected to announce a commitment within the next two months. Add Strickland to that group, and the Razorbacks could be done at offensive line or add another if they find the right fit.
Arkansas’ chances with Strickland seem to be strong. It helps that none of his other top choices (Maryland, Minnesota and North Carolina State) are that close to home either. If he ends up committing elsewhere, Jones becomes a must-get for the Hogs. They’ll also obviously revamp efforts with some others. Princeton Pines from Baton Rouge, La., and Jerome Carvin of the Memphis area would be likely candidates.