Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss Arkansas’ ability to recruit elite talent, the coaching staff’s approach to in-state prospects and more.
“Which position will be most important to fill with Razorback football recruiting in the 2018 class?” — Trey Ballard via Twitter
Bret Bielema and his staff have finally built a healthy amount of roster depth. Because of that, and not many scholarships projected to be available for the 2018 signing class, most positions should be in good shape with bodies and potential talents.
That being said, Arkansas underwhelmed in its efforts to sign defensive linemen in the 2017 class. Melvin Johnson was the only signee in the position group and he’s a junior college transfer. There’s a chance the Hogs may add Clemson graduate transfer Scott Pagano, but he’s not a long-term solution with one season of eligibility remaining.
The Razorbacks did sign four defensive linemen in 2016, so they aren’t necessarily desperate at this point. However, that will change after the 2017 season as they’ll need to start building for the future.
Here’s a look at defensive line recruits Arkansas has among its priorities.
- Max Wright, 4-star, Katy (Texas) Taylor
- Ronnie Perkins, 4-star, Luteran North (St. Louis)
- Trevor Trout, 4-star, Chaminade (St. Louis)
- Jordan Kelley, 3-star, Tulsa (Okla.) Union
- Tayland Humphrey, Hutchinson (Kans.) C.C.
Tight end is another position the Razorbacks need to help by signing a high school prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. They did not sign a high school tight end in 2017, instead going the JUCO route with Jeremy Patton.
The No. 1 JUCO tight end in the class according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Patton will have two years of eligibility. That’s assuming he arrives on campus, which is now expected this summer. He was scheduled to join the program in January but failed to graduate at Arizona Western and is working to do so now.
Arkansas has a commitment from a high school tight end — 3-star Luke Ford from Carterville (Ill.). Ford announced his pledge earlier this week.
“(Arkansas is) off to a great start with the 2018 recruits. Who is the next big one we’re going to get?” — Ned from Harrison via Twitter
The start to the 2018 recruiting class has been as good as Arkansas fans should realistically expect. The Hogs have commitments from three 4-star prospects — quarterback Connor Noland, linebacker Bumper Pool and cornerback Byron Hanspard II — and Ford could be a 4-star prospect by the end of this recruiting cycle. If nothing else, Ford has a 4-star-caliber offer list.
Fans seem to complain about the Razorbacks’s lack of 4-star recruits. Well, they might well be getting their wish in this class.
The commitments of Ford and Hanspard came back-to-back days earlier this week, so we’ll see if Arkansas can keep the momentum going. If they can, here’s three prospects who could likely be next to join the class.
- Ken Montgomery Jr., 4-star CB, Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.)
- Alston Orji, 4-star LB, Rockwall (Texas)
- Lawrence Keys III, 4-star WR, McDonogh 35 (New Orleans)
“Does Luke Ford compare to any tight ends we’ve had in the past?” — Ned from Harrison via Twitter
The coaching staff certainly thinks so. Ford said during his recent visit to Fayetteville the coaches compared him to former Mackey Award winner Hunter Henry. That’s high praise and largely the reason fans should be so excited about his potential. Listed at 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, Ford has better size than Henry as a recruit.