Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we look at what tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. recently had to say about in-state recruiting.
In-state classes keeping Arkansas’ Barry Lunney Jr. busy
As has been stated many times, Arkansas’ 2018 recruiting class is going to be a small group in the number of players the Razorbacks sign. The Hogs currently have 12 commitments and are expected to finish with 14. That number can obviously increase in the next few months, but it’s unlikely to take a big jump.
So what does that mean for the coaching staff? Less work on the recruiting trail? More time to focus on the current team than in a typical year? Not exactly. At least not for tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr.
Arkansas’ primary in-state recruiter, Lunney is busy as ever. The Razorbacks have five 2018 Natural State players committed, likely assuring in-state recruits will make up at least a fourth of the signees. That’s a high percentage for Arkansas. Lunney is currently focused on making sure the Hogs keep all those prospects firmly committed and get them signed in December.
“I don’t know that it’s all that different [for me],” Lunney said of the 2018 class. “A good chunk of our recruits are from my area. That’s kind of business as normal for me as far as the guys I’m directly involved with. And we’re all involved with those guys. When I say it’s my area, you guys know I’m in charge of Arkansas, but we group recruit. We do that across the country, but specifically with our Arkansas guys. It’s all hands on deck for that. Head coach, coordinators, assistants, myself. So, we’ve got a lot of help in that regard.”
Barry Lunney: Hogs off to really good start with 2019 class
One thing a small 2018 class does is allow Arkansas to get a jump-start on evaluating the 2019 class.
Early in the process, that group is shaping up to be particularly strong within the state. According to the 247Sports composite rantings, there are three in-state 4-star prospects — wide receiver Treylon Burks (Warren), tight end Hudson Henry (Pulaski Academy) and tackle Darius Thomas (Jonesboro). Arkansas has already offered all three, as well as 3-star wide receiver Jadon Jackson (Bentonville West).
“The bottom line is there’s a really good number this year and we’re off to a really good start for the following year as far as guys that we’ve early identified,” Lunney said. “There’s going to be more [in 2019]. There’s no doubt there’s going to be a few more.
“We’re very excited where we’re at. We had a good group last year, another group in Arkansas this year that we hope to sign and then the next year is off to really good start.”
What will the in-state numbers be?
As for exactly how many Natural State recruits Arkansas looks to sign in each class, Lunney says there has never been a set number. If the staff feels a player is good enough, the Hogs will offer. That might be 10 recruits or only a couple.
“We’ve talked about this ad nauseam … our job is to try to identify the ones we think can help fit a niche for us or help us win SEC games, whatever that number may be,” Lunney said. “And we’re not always exact, it’s not always precise. What’s that number look like at the end of the day … who knows?”
Lunney added that those numbers, especially regarding in-state players, are “very fluid” each year. For instance, in the 2017 class the Razorbacks added three in-state recruits in the week leading up to National Signing Day last February.
One of those was defensive end David Porter from Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock. He made an official visit to campus in late January, received an offer and flipped his commitment from Colorado State to the Hogs shortly after. The other two were offensive lineman Ty Clary (Fayetteville) and Hayden Henry (Pulaksi Academy), Hudson’s older brother. Both joined the Hogs as blueshirts, meaning they’re expected to receive scholarships after their freshman fall semester.
“Nobody even knew we were on them, but we knew for a long time we [wanted them],” Lunney said. “So, that number is a very fluid situation.”
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