Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss a variety of topics from recruiting dual-threat quarterbacks to basketball commits signing early.
Why doesn’t Arkansas consider bringing in more dual-threat QBs? Seemed to work with Russell Wilson in the past for Bielema. I understand we run a pro-style offense, but the ability to do both never hurt anyone. — @Reenstein11
This is a really good question and something I know a lot of Arkansas fans have been puzzled by at times. So, thanks to Chris for passing it along and letting me take my best shot at clarifying.
I’ll start by saying I think it’s an overstatement to say Bret Bielema never considers bringing in dual-threat quarterbacks. He does. It’s just clearly not his preference. The Hogs signed Damon Mitchell as a dual-threat prospect in 2013, Bielema’s first class, and gave him the opportunity to play quarterback. It didn’t work out and obviously he switched positions a couple times before transferring to Rutgers after last season.
There’s also Gerry Bohanon Jr. in the 2018 class. Connor Noland, a pro-style quarterback who is committed to Arkansas, is definitely the top choice. But that doesn’t mean the coaching staff hasn’t been interested in Bohanon, who has dual-threat ability. And if Bohanon chooses Arkansas (I’m currently predicting he won’t), he’d be given every chance to prove his worth at quarterback.
Having said that, I truly believe a lot of it has to do with staying healthy at the position. Bielema doesn’t want his starting quarterback getting banged up. He believes a capable pro-style quarterback at full strength is what will thrive in his scheme.
And speaking of scheme, that’s the other major aspect to this equation. It’s not really a great fit to have a dual-threat quarterback in Arkansas’ offense. Bielema wants to establish the run every game to open up the pass. So, ideally, a lot of that is going to come from under-center play action and throwing from the pocket. Dual-threat options are best suited in a shotgun-heavy system with more space to make things happen.
I’m not saying one option (pro or spread offense) is better than the other. Everyone has their own preference. But what I am saying is, in many ways, it would take Bielema changing the identity of his team to implement a scheme suited for a dual-threat quarterback.
As for Wilson, I completely understand why he’s referenced, but he didn’t really run that much in his one season with Bielema at Wisconsin. He had just 79 attempts for 338 yards and had a huge season with his arm — more than 3,000 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. I also think he’s just a very unique player that can fit both those molds like a Fran Tarkenton or Steve Young.
How soon do you expect Treylon Burks, Darius Thomas, and Hudson Henry to commit? What’s our likelihood with each? — @JordanLenderman
For those who don’t know, these three are the top 2019 in-state recruits. Burks is a wide receiver from Warren, Henry a tight end from Little Rock and Thomas a tackle from Jonesboro. All are 4-star prospects and among the top 125 overall in the class, according to the 247Sports composite.
I think Arkansas is the favorite for all three. In fact, I’d be shocked if they don’t sign Burks and Henry. I say that about Henry because of the obvious family legacy (See: Hunter, Hayden and Mark Henry). Burks has been heavily recruited by Arkansas since he was a freshman. The Hogs identified him early, before he became a high-profile recruit. I honestly think some schools will avoid recruiting him just because they think the Razorbacks are firm favorites. Thomas may be a bit tougher to land, but all signs point toward the Razorbacks at this point.
As for when they’ll commit, I wouldn’t expect that to happen until next spring or summer. None of them are in any hurry that I know of and will likely make some other visits over the next several months.
I noticed the Hogs made the cut for D. Townsend. If he were to commit, would he have a spot? — @Marky_marka85 and @Gunner_Jensen_
Arkansas doesn’t have a running back spot currently available in the 2018 class. Jeremy Gibson, a 3-star prospect from Louisiana, committed in June. He has the only reserved spot for the position locked up. So, no, I don’t believe Arkansas would accept a commitment from a second running back at this time.
That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for DeMarcus Townsend, a 3-star recruit from Florida, to list the Razorbacks among his top choices. There was a strong mutual interest in the spring, and who knows how things may work out over the next few months.
In the unlikely event Gibson de-commits, the Hogs could show renewed interest in Townsend. The two remaining open spots in the class are presumably reserved for a defensive lineman and/or a possible top prospect at tight end and/or on the offensive line. But if those options fall through and the time to sign draws near, a player such as Townsend may have a new opportunity to jump on board.
Any realistic shot at big time OL commit Sewell? — @jtsayes
Penei Sewell is big time. He’s a 4-star tackle and one of the top 50 overall recruits in the 2018 class.
While I think Arkansas has made a good impression (he visited over the summer), I just don’t see the Hogs having a realistic shot. His offer list is nearly as good as it gets with schools such as Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Southern Cal and UCLA. I expect him to end up at Alabama or one of the West Coast schools.
We should know something soon exactly where he stands. SEC Country Alabama reporter Chris Kirschner recently reported Sewell is likely to announce his top schools by this weekend. If he cuts it down to a top 3 or 4, as expected, I don’t anticipate the Hogs making the list.
Why would a committed basketball player not sign early? — @sam_melson23
There really is no good reason for this. If basketball recruits are committed by the November signing period (Nov. 8-15 this year), they’re expected to sign. If they don’t, it’s time to seriously doubt the commitment.
The only scenario I can think of where maybe commits would hold off until the spring is if the college program requests it because they’re deemed an academic risk. Even then, it’s likely they would still sign in November and just be closely monitored going forward with a backup plan in place.
As for Arkansas’ 2018 class, I expect all three to commits to sign in November.
To submit a question for recruiting mailbags, email Shadid13@gmail.com or send a message to @Shadid13 on Twitter.