Welcome to SEC Country’s Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss recent commits, the early signing period, Chad Morris’ recruiting ability and more.
Are the 3 commits we currently have real game changers? Do you foresee anymore top quality prospects signing with Arkansas? Finally, what is your opinion on Bohannon’s decision. Does he stay home or go?
— Hunter Rawls (@hunter_rawls) December 13, 2017
Sunday was Chad Morris’ best day in his first week as Arkansas coach. That’s when all three of the commits you mentioned pledged to the Hogs.
Two of them — WR Mike Woods and OL Silas Robinson — had previously been committed to Morris at SMU. That doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t capable of being SEC players. The new coaching staff clearly feels they are the only recruits of Morris’ 19 SMU commits the staff members pursued to join them at Arkansas.
Woods is a very talented receiver who fits Morris’ system very well. He was SMU’s highest-rated commit. His film tells me he can play anywhere.
Robinson has some good physical tools at 6-foot-5, 300 pounds. He’s also the son of a coach and one of the top players on a very good team at Yoakum (Texas) High School. I admit I’m not great at evaluating offensive linemen without seeing them in person, so I’d rather hold off on any firm judgments regarding him.
Then, there’s cornerback LaDarrius Bishop, the Hogs’ third pledge Sunday. He is an elite athlete. With the speed to run a 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds, the possibilities of what he might do at Arkansas are endless. Becoming a lockdown corner, returning kicks and contributing at wide receiver are all things in play. He’s a huge commit, and one Morris clearly felt he had to have.
As for Gerry Bohanon Jr., things are looking great for Arkansas. The 4-star quarterback from Earle, Ark., is very high on Morris. If I were forced to bet one way or the other, I’d say I feel very confident he’ll sign with the Razorbacks.
Saw Hanspard Tweeting that Morris hadn’t called him and a day or so later we see him commit to Baylor. Some had him rated 4⭐️ – did Morris not want him?
— John T Willett (@RoadHogWarrior) December 13, 2017
It is my understanding that the new staff decided to move in a different direction regarding 4-star cornerback Byron Hanspard II. I can also say with confidence it has nothing to do with Hanspard’s grades or character. The kid is as good as you could ask for in those areas.
I know it sounds crazy that Arkansas would not go after a 4-star prospect it has a great chance at landing, but I do understand why the Hogs didn’t. What I believe happened is the the Hogs are only planning to sign one cornerback in this class. The one they decided to prioritize over the others was Bishop. When Bishop committed Sunday evening, the spot was filled. It’s just a case of Arkansas taking the quality in-state recruit over the other options.
I actually think it’s a smart move to not bring in more than one corner. Honestly, I would’ve considered not signing one at all, but taking Bishop makes a lot of sense. The scholarship spots are heavy at that position. The previous staff signed five corners in the 2017 class and was planning to sign two in this class. That’s a lot of scholarship spots with the Hogs only losing three corners the past two years. Plus, corner is a position of strength on this team. Those scholarship are needed far more at other spots.
Since TE Luke Ford decomitted, I haven't seen anything else about us pursuing him. Is there any news of us still in the running or have we dropped out?
— Brandon Oliver (@B_Oliver14) December 13, 2017
The previous staff did continue to recruit Ford, a 4-star tight end, for several months after he de-committed last summer. The coaches backed off over the past month, but they sort of did that with every recruit except junior college prospects. It became clear that was ultimately their only hope at turning things around and keeping their jobs. Obviously, they didn’t get that chance.
As for Ford now, I do believe the new staff has at least reached out to him. In particular, it sounds like offensive coordinator Joe Craddock has had contact with him. It’s also possible Barry Lunney Jr. — the tight ends coach who is being retained from the previous staff — is reaching out to him since they have a close relationship.
At this point, I wouldn’t say Arkansas has a realistic chance at getting Ford. I think Auburn, Georgia, Michigan and Texas are firmly entrenched in front of the Hogs for his services.
Since the departure of Beilema and this point in tim w Coach Morris, outline by position and analyze the de commits to the new commits. What has improved? What has slipped? Then, where do the HOGS still need ballers ?
— Joe Evans (@JoeEvan42602416) December 13, 2017
There are really only two positions that have changed during the coaching transition — cornerback and wide receiver.
While the corner spot doesn’t necessarily have more talent coming in now than before the transition, it is at a more efficient number of allotted scholarships. The new staff landed Bishop and decided less is more beyond that.
The wide receiver position improved considerably with Woods’ pledge. It could get even better if Arkansas can land Joshua Moore, a 4-star prospect from Yoakum, Texas. The Hogs previously weren’t planning to sign a wide receiver.
Arkansas still needs to solidify things on the offensive line. They have three high school linemen firmly committed and expected to sign next week. Junior college tackle Noah Banks is more of a soft commit who is exploring his options. Securing his signature over the next week would be huge for the new staff.
There also is a need to bring in an SEC-ready defensive lineman and potentially another safety. I believe the staff can get those things done, even if it doesn’t happen during the early signing period.
Do we get a DC before the early signing day? Do you see any big time commits coming on?
— zach mitchell (@therealzachm) December 13, 2017
I think Arkansas could certainly announce a defensive coordinator hire prior to the early signing day next Wednesday. However, I don’t believe it’ll be in time to do much recruiting since the current contact period ends this weekend.
As for potential big-time commits, keep any eye on these recruits:
- 4-star QB Gerry Bohanon Jr.
- 4-star WR Joshua Moore
- 4-star QB Casey Thompson (if Bohanon goes elsewhere)
- 4-star ATH Jaquayln Crawford
I’d currently only project Bohanon to Arkansas among that group, but you never say never in recruiting. The Hogs are at least on the mind of all four.
Think we have a chance of getting any more 4 (or maybe even 5) star recruits.
— Jordan Harding🏈⚜#wps🐗 (@scifiguy407) December 13, 2017
There are a few 4-star prospects Arkansas could potentially get in this class. I’d also say I expect the Hogs to be getting a few more in each class going forward. I just think this is going to be a very strong recruiting staff with ties to the right places to have success.
As for 5-star recruits, such players should never be the expectation at Arkansas. The Hogs will have a chance to get one here and there, but keep in mind how rare 5-star players are. There are only about 30 in each class. Two of the four College Football Playoff teams — Alabama and Oklahoma — don’t even have one 5-star prospect committed in the 2018 class. That’s how tough it is to even get one.
I seen an interview where Gooden the juco Defensive guy wants to come play for the hogs. He is friends with Sosa. He also said that the hogs FB coach hasn’t called him yet. But was told that our Defense coach Now has told him that our new coach will.why haven’t they contacted yet
— Aaron Smitn (@Asmit25Aaron) December 13, 2017
At this time, the new staff is not recruiting junior college defensive tackle Emmit Gooden. It also seems as if every other day there is a new storyline to his recruitment. So, I’m not even attempting to predict where he’ll end up.
I’d expect whoever is hired to be the defensive coordinator would want to take Gooden. But he’s also planning to sign next week, so will a hire be made in time to make that decision? In the meantime, it seems as if the staff as it is will be willing to let him go elsewhere. Maybe that’ll change within the next week, or maybe there is something entirely unknown going on here. We’ll have to wait and see.
With a defensive coordinator not in place how do our coaches plan on handling our defensive recruits we have committed? — Adam Reames via Twitter direct message
The new staff has certainly appeared to be more active recruiting offense, but the defense hasn’t been totally neglected.
I can say for certain defensive commits Bumper Pool (LB), Sean Michael Flanagan (DB), Isaiah Nichols (DE) and John Mincey (DE) are players the new staff has been in contact with and wants to keep committed. I’d estimate there’s a good chance all three sign next Wednesday.
Obviously, the staff already went out and landed Bishop’s commitment. There are others they are currently recruiting, such as Texas A&M safety commit Jordan Moore.
But there’s also been some they apparently decided to move on from. I already mentioned Hanspard’s situation and I believe the same is true for former cornerback commit Tanner McCalister.
Adam went on to ask specifically about Gooden, who I covered in the above answer.
So, is not having a defensive coordinator a detriment in recruiting now? Probably at least a little bit. But that doesn’t mean the Hogs won’t be signing any defensive players next week. In fact, I currently believe half of the 10 projected signees for Wednesday to be defensive players.
After that, expect there to be a major push for some additions on that side of the ball leading up to the February signing period. That’ll be especially true once a defensive coordinator is in place.
To submit a question for recruiting mailbags, email Shadid13@gmail.com or send a message to @Shadid13 on Twitter.