Welcome to the weekly Arkansas football and recruiting mailbag where Arkansas reporter Trent Shadid sorts through questions asked by Razorbacks fans.
This week, we take a look at which top target will commit next, which target impressed the most at The Opening and which assistant is the best recruiter on the staff.
When is the next major Arkansas target expect to announce his commitment?
As the 2016 season draws close, some key Arkansas targets have indicated they are nearing a college decision. Keisean Nixon, a 3-star junior college cornerback from Arizona Western, announced on Twitter he plans to make his decision Aug. 1 between Arkansas, Cal, Colorado State and Iowa State. Nixon is the No. 3 junior college cornerback prospect in the 2017 class and would give the Razorbacks a fourth commitment in the cycle at a position of emphasis.
Defensive back Montaric Brown is the also expected to announce his decision soon with Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma State in contention. Brown, from Ashdown (Ark.) High School, is the top-ranked player in the state for the 2017 class. He recently stated on Twitter he plans to commit sometime at the end of the month.
One 2018 prospect that could announce sooner rather than later is Greenwood (Ark.) High School quarterback Connor Noland. A 4-star prospect and No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the class, Noland has offers from the Arkansas football and baseball programs. He told SEC Country he is considering playing both sports in college and plans to commit sometime within the next three months.
Which Arkansas target impressed the most at The Opening?
This could go to running back Chase Hayden or cornerback/wide receiver Ambry Thomas as both were standouts among the more than 160 prospects at last weekend’s The Opening, Nike’s premier summer camp.
I’ll go with Hayden, because as a 3-star prospect his sixth-place finish among the skill-position players in the Nike+ was one of the more impressive feats of the weekend. The 5-foot-10, 189-pound 2017 recruit from St. George’s Independent School (Collierville, Tenn.) also helped his 7-on-7 team, Fly Rush, finish runner-up in the 7-on-7 competition. Hayden is expected to announce his commitment date soon with Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma State and South Carolina as his current top schools. Arkansas is currently believed to be the favorite.
Thomas was named to the All-Defensive team for his play in the 7-on-7 competition. He’s a 4-star prospect with more than 30 offers. He visited Arkansas during the Razorbacks’ three-day high school camp in June.
Who is the best recruiter on the coaching staff?
Picking out one is difficult because Arkansas has a handful of assistants with exceptional recruiting abilities because of past experience as a head coach or deep ties to a certain area of the country. If I had to pick one as the best, I’d go with wide receivers coach Michael Smith. A New Orleans native, he’s an ace at recruiting Louisiana, a state with as much as talent as almost anywhere in the country. With Smith leading the charge, Arkansas has signed nine players from Louisiana since 2014 and has three more already committed for the 2017 class. The Razorbacks signed zero Louisiana recruits in 2013, a class that was almost entirely in place before Smith arrived at Arkansas.
Others of note:
- Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. is as good as it gets when it comes to keeping the home-grown talent in Arkansas. The former Fayetteville (Ark.) High School offensive coordinator served as the primary recruiter for all four of the in-state players the Razorbacks signed last season. Those four also happened to be the top four prospects in the state.
- Offensive coordinator Dan Enos has proven to have strong recruiting among quarterbacks and players in the heart of Big Ten country. Enos, the head coach at Central Michigan from 2010-14, has been praised by the quarterback recruits for his knowledge of the game and has also used his Michigan connections to help the Razorbacks land visits from targets they likely otherwise wouldn’t get.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.