Arkansas recruiting mailbag: What is Chad Morris looking for at QB?
Welcome to SEC Country’s Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss quarterback recruiting, when the commitments might start rolling in, where things stand with several 2019 targets and more.
I don’t think Chad Morris necessarily has the ideal version of what he would want at quarterback on the current roster. That being said, the type of player it takes to meet that expectation is Deshaun Watson, who he recruited to Clemson. Quarterbacks of that caliber with his skills are incredibly few and far between. But at least you get the idea of the skill set Morris likes with the Watson comparison, and there really isn’t a quarterback on the roster fits that mold.
Still, Morris should be able to put together a highly productive offense with whoever wins the starting quarterback job. He’s known for figuring out how to do that regardless of the specific skills of his quarterback.
As for the future, there are a few options fitting that mold, and Morris is already targeting them. In the 2019 class, K.J. Jefferson from North Panola (Sardis, Miss.) is exactly what Morris wants. He’s 6-foot-4 and is an equally capable passer and scrambler.
The Hogs would also love to have St. Pius X (Houston) quarterback Grant Gunnell in the 2019 class. Though he doesn’t necessarily fit the ideal mold, he’s possibly the best passer in the class and Arkansas would be crazy not to take him.
For 2020, there are three dual-threat options on Arkansas’ radar right now. Jacolby Criswell is probably the top choice to keep an eye on since he looks like the best in-state quarterback in the class. At this point, the Morrilton prospect could develop into exactly what Morris wants. He’s already visited the campus and is very interested in the Hogs. TJ Finley from Ponchatoula (La.) and Hudson Card from Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) are the others to watch right now. Particularly Card, who attends the same school where Morris won two Texas state titles a decade ago.
I’m betting on it being one of the top in-state players. The most likely possibilities falling under that category would be wide receiver Treylon Burks, tight end Hudson Henry or offensive tackle Stacey Wilkins.
Burks and Henry are among the top 50 overall players in the class according to the 247Sports composite. They are must-get recruits for Arkansas. Wilkins was recently bumped to a 4-star prospect and is only going to continue climbing recruiting rankings.
All three are big-time recruits and all three are very interested in the Hogs. Look for one of them to be the first big-name commitment, most likely this summer.
I’d have to go with linebacker, Andrew Parker from New Orleans. He had no FBS scholarship opportunities and was not rated by any recruiting outlets when Arkansas offered him last January. He was committed nine days later and had offers from Ole Miss, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M by the time he signed in February.
It’s hard to say exactly why he had the lack of recruiting attention until late in the process. But some of it should certainly be attributed to playing at Sophie B. Wright High School, which is an afterthought among New Orleans high school football programs. Parker had 107 tackles and 26 tackles for loss for Sophie B. Wright last season.
Parker has SEC-level size (6-1, 230 pounds) and speed (4.57 40-yard dash). Such a player being rated as the No. 1,614 player in his class makes him a steal for the Hogs.
Arkansas would have a great chance at signing them if either of these players receives an offer. It just might take some time for that to happen. The Hogs are still waiting to see what happens with some other running backs higher on their recruiting board.
Texas prospects Deondrick Glass and Darwin Barlow are joined by Marcus Major from Oklahoma atop Arkansas’ running back priority list for 2019. If a couple of those players appear headed elsewhere, Arkansas probably offers Wise and/or Roach.
The next commitment is most likely to come in April when 2019 recruits can begin taking official visits. Arkansas already has at least one official visitor — offensive lineman Joseph Stone — scheduled for next month. He also visited two weeks ago and should be on commitment watch when he returns to campus.
My projection would be Arkansas adds eight to 12 commitments from April through June when recruits will be taking official visits to Fayetteville and being seen at camps by the coaching staff. That number of players in addition to defensive lineman Trevis Hopper — the lone current commit — would mean roughly half the spots in the class will be filled heading into July. That’s probably right where the staff wants to be at that point.
I think the main reason there may be more buzz around Wilkins is the difference in personalities. Thomas is far more reserved and keeping things close to the chest with his recruitment. Wilkins is very outgoing and always willing to share updates on his recruitment.
That said, both are outstanding tackle prospects Arkansas really needs to get. The Hogs have put themselves in good shape with Wilkins to this point, but it’s going to be a battle to keep him in-state based on his offer list. It’s basically an identical situation with Thomas. But unlike Wilkins, he hasn’t visited campus this spring. Arkansas’ staff needs to get him to Fayetteville and start strengthening their relationship with him, which should happen soon.
I’d have to do some checking to say for sure, but my gut says Arkansas is definitely back in the picture with Wolfe. One of the top cornerbacks in the 2019 class, the Houston-area prospect was looking into a visit to Arkansas before his Feb. 4 commitment to the Aggies. Now that his recruitment has reopened, the Hogs could definitely be a beneficiary. The key will be getting him to now schedule that visit to Fayetteville.
I know for certain under Bielema all offers were initially committable. Meaning, there was no waiting to see on anything else once you had the offer. The only way the offer no longer stood was if the available scholarship at a position became filled with commitments. I get the impression it is the same way under Morris, but I haven’t had a chance to find that out yet from a source on the staff. That’s something I’ll check into in the near future.
I get where you’re coming from, but I think with recruits today it’s wise to send out a bunch of offers. It’s tough to get the top recruits to even consider your program at all if you aren’t willing to give them an offer early in the process. That’s especially true at Arkansas, considering where the program is right now.
I just don’t believe it happens very often that recruits think an offer doesn’t mean much because a lot of players are getting them. I’m of the belief they are more likely to say, “Wow, an offer from Arkansas. Let me see what the Hogs are all about.”
It’s not all that common fans truly impact the decision of a recruit, but it does happen. I don’t think it’s so much the negative or positive rhetoric as much as it is the passion fans show. Many recruits are drawn to schools with fans who have an unwavering love for their school. They want to play in packed stadiums that truly give them the feel of a home-field advantage. They understand sometimes fans are going to be up and sometimes they’ll be down on the program. But the willingness to ultimately support the players and the program no matter what can be important to a lot of recruits.
Any news on Stacey Wilkins and his crystal ball going out of state? — @SooieRazorbacks
Wilkins has Arkansas and Oklahoma at the top of his list, with Texas making a strong push recently. At this point, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end up with the Hogs or Sooners. My pick right now would be Arkansas, but his recruitment is far from over and a lot can still happen. I think about a month ago there was a lot of momentum favoring Oklahoma for him. That has since slowed down after his visit to Arkansas in late February, which went very well.
Is Grant Gunnell an Oklahoma State lean? — @SooieRazorbacks
That’s become the new popular choice among recruiting experts, but I don’t feel that way at all. Based on what I’ve gathered, I don’t think Gunnell is leaning any direction at this point. His recruitment has very much been wide open since he de-committed from Texas A&M a month ago. I’d put Arkansas, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, TCU and Texas A&M as his most likely destinations.
How’s it looking with the kids from Hewitt-Trussville? Seems we’re trying to get a pipeline there. — @SooieRazorbacks
Arkansas’ new staff has done a great job building relationships at Hewitt-Trussville High School, located just outside Birmingham, Ala. It all started with the signing of safety Myles Mason in the 2018 class. Arkansas flipped him from Mississippi State late in the process and really got a lot of recruits in the talent-rich program thinking about the Hogs.
Stone, who I mentioned earlier as an upcoming official visitor, attends the school and could be next to further strengthen that pipeline. Arkansas is also a serious contender for 2020 Hewitt-Trussville wide receiver Malachi Moore. He visited campus this spring and has the Hogs high on his list early in the process.
It certainly helps Josh Floyd is the coach at Hewitt-Trussville. He arrived at the school in 2014 after a decade of success as coach at Shiloh Christian, located 10 miles north of Arkansas’ campus. He’s well aware of everything Northwest Arkansas has to offer to a recruit.
To submit a question for recruiting mailbags, email Shadid13@gmail.com or send a message to @Shadid13 on Twitter.