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.
“Why can’t we get as talented recruits as all the states that have two or more major colleges?” — Wade Newman via Facebook
Wade believes Arkansas’ reliance on signing and developing 3-star recruits is an “excuse” for not being able to bring 4- and 5-star prospects in 247Sports’ composite rankings to Fayetteville. He says Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina and other states support two major programs and both schools succeed while recruiting against each other. So he’s curious why Arkansas, which he believes is comparable to those states, can’t recruit at an equally high level with less competition.
He’s right: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Oklahoma and South Carolina land noticeably better classes than Arkansas. Oklahoma State is the only school among those Wade uses to make his point that the Hogs out-recruited in recent years.
But, these are not apples-to-apples comparisons. Alabama, Oklahoma and South Carolina produce more Power 5 conference talent than Arkansas. Their major programs also have deep pipelines in talent-rich border states. Still, it’s easy to understand fans’ frustration as two programs in such states have more success than Arkansas.
Ultimately, it all comes down to winning.
If the Hogs win more, they’ll be in play for more highly touted recruits. To get to that point, they need an effective combination of development and depth. That’s what the Bret Bielema program tries do with classes full of 3-star recruits. Bielema’s formula worked at Wisconsin. Coming years will tell if it works at Arkansas.
It should be noted: Arkansas lands a high percentage of in-state 4- and 5-star recruits. In its 2018 recruiting cycle, Arkansas has a commitment from 4-star quarterback Connor Noland of Greenwood, Ark., and has 4-star athlete Gerry Bohanon of Earle, Ark., among its top targets.
“How do our coaches approach recruiting? Do we offer all of our in-state prospects first, then recruit nationally?” — Josh Collins via Facebook
It tends to be the opposite in many cases. That probably is because Arkansas doesn’t have a lot of can’t-miss recruits. In its 2017 rankings, 247Sports gave 4-star rankings to three Arkansas prep players. The top two — Montaric Brown and Koilan Jackson — signed with the Hogs. Noland is one of two 4-star Arkansas prospects in the 2018 recruiting class.
The coaching staff is aware of in-state recruits before other schools, but it tends make national offers more frequently early in a recruiting cycle.
Still, nailing down top in-state talent is a priority in every recruiting class. If a highly regarded in-state prospect receives significant interest and/or offers from major programs, the Razorbacks are quick to make an offer and avoid falling behind.
“Are we still actively recruiting the giant offensive lineman from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)?” — Sean Ferrell via Facebook
Sean didn’t remember the name of the recruit, but the answer is yes.
Arkansas is after 4-star Reuben Unije and 3-star Daniel Faalele as much as any offensive linemen in the class. Both are IMG Academy tackle prospects. Unije is 6-foot-5, 305 pounds and from Alpharetta, Ga. Faalele is 6-9 and nearly 400 pounds. He was born in Australia and claims Bradenton, Fla., as home, according to 247Sports.
Both prospects have double-digit offer totals from Power 5 schools. They recently indicated moderate interest in Arkansas and visits to Fayetteville from both are possible.