Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss an in-state target going elsewhere, a 2018 class projection and more.
CB LaDarrius Bishop may not be the only offered in-state recruit not headed to Arkansas
Signing every in-state recruit it offers has been a major point of emphasis for Arkansas under coach Bret Bielema. And, for the most part, the Razorbacks have done just that. It’s something Bielema has harped on in the past when questioned about some Natural State prospects going elsewhere.
“We captured the commitment of every  player that we offered in the state of Arkansas,” Bielema said on National Signing Day last February. “And that has happened pretty regularly around here. Obviously, some kids in the state went to other schools, even some Power 5’s, but they were not offered by us.”
It appears Bielema will not be able to make such a statement when National Signing Day for the 2018 class rolls around.
The Hogs lost out on landing the commitment of Ashdown (Ark.) cornerback LaDarrius Bishop over the weekend. Bishop, a 3-star prospect and the No. 5 in-state recruit according to the 247Sports composite, pledged to Mississippi State on Saturday. He chose the Bulldogs over Arkansas and Oklahoma State. Mississippi State closed strong with Bishop, as he was believed to be at the top of its priority list at defensive back this past month.
Earle (Ark.) 4-star quarterback Gerry Bohanon Jr. may very well be the next in-state player with an Arkansas offer to head elsewhere. He visited Ole Miss on Sunday, a school that is among his top-6 choices along with the Razorbacks, Baylor, Georgia, Louisville and Mississippi State. A chance at early playing time is an important factor to Bohanon. Some of his other final choices can sell just that. Meanwhile, the Hogs have a crowded quarterback room even with Austin Allen gone after the 2017 season.
But Bishop to Mississippi State and Bohanon potentially committing elsewhere aren’t as devastating to the Hogs’ in-state efforts as it may seem. In fact, it actually makes sense for all parties involved.
Arkansas loses just 12 scholarship seniors after this season. Two blueshirts from the 2017 class are promised to be on scholarship by the 2018 spring semester, and they will essentially count toward the 2018 group. That gives the Razorbacks 10 scholarships spots to fill since it appears they’ll enter the season with 85 on scholarship — the FBS limit. That number will certainly rise as players leave the program between now and then.
So, let’s say Arkansas has 15 spots available in this class, which is believed to be how the coaching staff is viewing things. The Hogs already have nine players committed and two of those are cornerbacks. In Bishop’s case, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Arkansas to take another cornerback, especially considering five corners were signed in the 2017 class.
This isn’t to say the Hogs wouldn’t have accepted his commitment or that they wold have pulled his offer. Being an in-state player, they likely would’ve accepted his commitment and found a way to make it work, possibly moving players around or even moving Bishop to wide receiver. But a year with scholarship restrictions makes those moves difficult.
It didn’t make sense for Bishop, either. Why join an already crowded group at your position when Mississippi State is saying you’re its top priority at defensive back? His best chance to be a Razorback was earlier this summer when 4-star cornerback Byron Hanspard II was the only defensive back committed. Bishop knew that, considered it and wasn’t ready to make a decision then. That’s his prerogative.
It’s a very similar situation with Bohanon, the No. 1 2018 in-state prospect. Greenwood (Ark.) 4-star Connor Noland, No. 2 in the class, has been firmly committed for nearly a year. Arkansas is making Bohanon a priority and would love to have his commitment. However, though the Hogs would do it in this case, signing two quarterbacks in such a small class is far from a necessity. Bohanon, like Bishop, understands this numbers game and may be inclined to also go elsewhere.
It’s not that Bishop and Bohanon don’t like Arkansas, or vice versa. Both have spoken fondly about the idea of playing for their state’s flagship school. It’s simply a unique year with limited scholarships. That doesn’t allow much room for exceptions, shifting spots and/or additional promises. For those reasons, this was always going to happen with at least a couple 2018 in-state prospects Arkansas offered.
Projecting the 2018 class
SEC Country recently projected what the 2018 class will look like when it is finalized following National Signing Day. The current projection has the Hogs signing 15 players. The nine current commits are on the list, but there also are some surprises thrown in the mix.
Bohanon, for instance, is on the list. There’s a specific reason for that, though. Click here to find out what that is and read the full list.
Bentonville West WR Jadon Jackson is one to watch for 2019
I wrote about Bentonville West (Centerton, Ark.) 2019 wide receiver Jadon Jackson over the weekend. You can click here to read the story, in case you missed it. Since I didn’t give much of a scouting report on him in the story, I wanted to do so in these notes.
Jackson has the potential to turn into a big-time national recruit over the next year and a half. I’d been told he has great hands and speed, and seeing him in 7-on-7 action Friday solidified that assessment. He was also quicker than he looked on film from last season.
He has great top-end speed — he told me his fastest 40-yard dash was 4.39 seconds — with good hands and he’s very elusive in space. What more could you want in a wide receiver? If he grows a couple inches — he’s around 6-foot right now — he could very well be a top 200 overall type of recruit this time next year.
Miss a previous edition? Find every SEC Country daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook right here.