Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss potential in-state commits, a pair of Texas prospects, a basketball signee and more.
How many more in-state prospects do you expect to commit and will they have time if other out-of-state guys commit faster? — Mark Dagenhart
Arkansas has four in-state recruits committed to its 2018 class, three of them coming in the past month. I believe at least one more in-state recruit will commit in the class, and maybe as many as another three or four others.
Pulaski Academy (Little Rock) offensive lineman Luke Jones is the most likely candidate to commit next. He received an offer earlier this month and I’ve since been told it was somewhat expected he’d go ahead and commit shortly thereafter. That didn’t happen, but I expect it to at some point between now and September.
I’m not sure I can say Ashdown cornerback LaDarrius Bishop is as likely to commit at this point as I would have thought a couple months ago. The Hogs’ defensive back group has filled up quickly in this class with a safety and two cornerbacks already committed. I get the impression Arkansas could either be done with that group at three or bring in another if it’s a good fit.
I think Bishop is someone who would be viewed as a good fit. Reason being, he’s an in-state kid with elite speed, lots of room to improve and could very well end up at Mississippi State if Arkansas didn’t take his commitment down the road. For now, he’s exploring all his options, but remains very high on the Razorbacks.
There’s also Earle quarterback Gerry Bohanon, the Natural State’s top recruit in the class according to 247Sports composite rankings. It’s complicated with Connor Noland, another in-state 4-star quarterback, already committed. It helps tremendously that Noland has made it clear he wants Bohanon to join him in the class. The further Bohanon’s recruitment drags out, I believe the better Arkansas’ chances become. So, with him now expected to make official visits in the fall before deciding, I think the Hogs are a more likely option.
To answer your question about having time to still commit, I feel Bishop’s situation is the most pressing. Jones still has time with the Hogs having just one offensive lineman committed and the expectation to likely sign three. Bohanon’s commitment will be accepted no matter when it comes.
What are the chances of Arkansas getting the linebacker out of Texas that has us in his top 7? — Adam Reames
Arkansas needs to add an outside linebacker in this class. The Hogs are searching for players who better fit their new 3-4 scheme to play the spot. DaShaun White, the recruit referenced here, perfectly fits that bill.
That being said, I think Oklahoma and Texas A&M are going to be really hard for Arkansas to beat out for White. I believe the coaching staff knows that, which is possibly why it recently offered outside linebacker Maureese Wren from Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas. I believe Wren is the more likely possibility now, simply because the competition for his commitment isn’t as tumultuous.
Chances the Hogs land Erik Ezukanma? Does he have an official visit lined up? — Zach Boatman
There has been a lot of chatter regarding Erik Ezukanma, a 4-star wide receiver, to Arkansas the past couple days. It comes from 247Sports’ EJ Holland making a crystal ball prediction that Ezukanma picks the Hogs. Holland is a trusted reporter who covers recruiting in the Dallas area as well as anyone, so it stands to reason he would know the latest information on a recruit from that area.
I don’t know much about Ezukanma or his recruitment. I did talk to him at The Opening regional in Dallas back in March. He wasn’t an overly talkative kid, so he didn’t give away much. He did indicate he liked Arkansas and was hopeful to visit. A visit hasn’t happened to this point, unless it was kept extremely quiet. I’m also not aware of one that is planned for the future.
What I do know is that Arkansas would be fine with not even taking a wide receiver in this class. They signed six in the 2017 group, so depth wouldn’t be harmed by that empty position group.
That being said, if Ezukanma were to pick the Hogs, they’d take him. I feel that way because the program is in no position to turn down a 6-foot-3, 4-star wide receiver. They’d need to take a chance on that type of talent and find a way to make the scholarship numbers work.
If he does visit Fayetteville at some point, then I think things could be serious. I’ll hold off on any predictions until that happens.
Who do the Arkansas Razorbacks have a better shot at landing? The re-commitment of Luke Ford or WR Erik Ezukanma? — Grant Phillips
That’s a tough question. I’ll go with Luke Ford re-committing. I know he has a lot of major programs treating him like a top priority, which makes things tough for the Hogs. However, I get the impression he still really likes Arkansas and loves the idea of playing tight end under Bret Bielema. I still believe the chances aren’t great he re-commits, but I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked if he did once he takes all his visits and lets things settle for a while before making another decision.
With Ezukanma, like I alluded to in the previous question, I’m not sure I believe Arkansas’ chances are great in a class where it’s not even making wide receiver a top priority. But, again, my opinion would change if he visits.
To put it simply, I know Ford has visited the campus and likes Arkansas a lot. Though I don’t doubt Ezukanma still likes the Hogs, I can’t say the same about him.
What are our chances of landing Fulwider now? I was told we are most likely getting Geathers out of Georgia. My question would be, do you think the Arkansas defense in 2018 could be our next really good defense? — Adam Reames
I think the Razorbacks have as good of chance as any program to get defensive lineman Nicholas Fulwider. He visited recently and told me Arkansas exceeded his expectations. He also said the Hogs are among his top-6 choices, along with Georgia Tech, Indiana, North Carolina, Rutgers and Vanderbilt.
When he narrows that list, I’d expect Arkansas to make the cut. I also think they’ll be joined by Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt all the way down to the final stages of his recruitment. Those two will be the most difficult to beat out, Georgia Tech because he’s from just outside Atlanta and is close with his family, and Vanderbilt because he seems to legitimately value receiving a good education. Vanderbilt is also much closer to home than Fayetteville and the Commodores have been recruiting quite well recently.
With outside linebacker Thurman Geathers, another Atlanta-area recruit, I believe you received some good information. He visited Arkansas not long ago, enjoyed the trip and doesn’t have any clearly superior offers. So, I’m leaning toward thinking he’ll pick the Hogs when he announces his commitment on the Fourth of July.
As for the 2018 defense, that could be an outstanding unit with the recruiting class helping out. Assuming he does sign in December and enrolls for the spring semester, I’d be surprised if junior college defensive lineman Emmit Gooden isn’t an immediate impact player. Put him with guys such as Sosa Agim and Austin Capps and that unit will be stout. If Fulwider comes, he also may work into the rotation right away. He’s nearly big enough already.
Linebacker commit Bumper Pool, who plans to enroll early, could also work his way into some playing time. He’d help bolster a group likely headlined by Dre Greenlaw and De’Jon Harris.
What the secondary will look like is tough to predict right now, but the Hogs have recruited well enough the past two years to be in good shape when 2018 rolls around.
Do you think Gabe [Osabuohien] will redshirt and is he on campus? I only ask because [Mike] Anderson didn’t talk about him at all. — Sam Melson
I don’t think Gabe Osabuohien will be making an immediate impact. I’d assume that’s why Anderson didn’t mention him. It’s not that they don’t like him, but he needs some development. He also was a late addition to the class, whereas the others have been locked in for a while. Anderson has had time to think about the others and knows where they fit in next season. The same can’t be said for Osabuohien. For these reasons, I think he’s a strong candidate to redshirt.
Then again, Anderson likes having a deep rotation because it fits the Hogs’ style of play. If Osabuohien proves to be one of top 10 or 11 options after he arrives in July, he’ll play. Even in that case, I have a hard time envisioning him averaging more than 10 minutes a game.
Osabuohien is a nice addition with a lot of potential at 6-foot-8 with a large wingspan and the athleticism to run the floor. He’ll be a contributor. Whether that comes in his first year on campus is up in the air. I’m not sure Anderson even knows for sure right now.
It’s nice to get a basketball question in here to change things up.
How much money from TV/SECN can Arkansas allot to the recruiting budget each year, or can it? If it can, should it allot more, and would that help at all? — Tucker Sayes
The answer to the first question is as much as they want or deem necessary. As long as they remain within their own budget, I’m not aware of any rule restricting total spending on recruiting.
When studies are done on this topic, the SEC dominates the top spenders on recruiting. That’s surely in large part because they benefit significantly from ticket sales and TV revenue compared to most schools in other conferences. The Razorbacks are regularly listed among the top 10 programs in the country in terms of average spending. According to a USA Today report from 2015, Arkansas spent an average of $652,459 from 2008-13.
I have little doubt that figure has risen considerably during the Bret Bielema era. This staff works very hard on the recruiting trail and travels a lot. I’d put it in the millions if I had to guess, though I can’t say for sure. I can try to check on it.
It’s a little bit of an inexact science. Not every school lists recruiting spending the same or even separately from other expenses. For instance, Arkansas lumped it in with team travel and severance pay, among other things, to account for $34 million in “other expenses” during the 2013-14 year.
Should the Hogs spend more? I don’t think so. I only say that because I’ve never heard of them having to cut back or restrict anything. They seem to travel as much as necessary and bring as many official visitors — those are on the school’s tab — as they can get on campus.
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