Everyone wants the gifts, no one wants the coal. That often-used reference to Christmas can also be a metaphor for recruiting.
If Arkansas gets more presents than coal as National Signing Day approaches on Feb. 1, the Razorbacks could have a top 20 class for the first time in 15 years. Otherwise, expect the class to end up in a familiar spot on the fringe of the top 25.
SEC Country is spending Christmas looking at some of the best and worst possibilities for the Hogs’ in recruiting. Here’s the worst-case scenarios for Arkansas while closing out the 2017 class:
Calloway doesn’t pick Arkansas
Cornerback Chevin Calloway is priority No. 1 in closing out the 2017 class. The 4-star recruit from Bishop Dunne High School (Dallas) is the No. 116 overall prospect in the class.
A decision from Calloway (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) isn’t expected until late January. Arkansas is among his most-likely suitors along with Ole Miss and Texas. The Razorbacks final chance at a impressing him will likely come on an official visit he’s expected to take next month.
Arkansas returns three corners with starting experience and has three others already committed in the class. So while cornerback is not a position of need, Calloway’s talented enough to bring in regardless and potentially see the field early.
The coaching staff has also put a lot of effort into recruiting Calloway, visiting him twice during the contact period earlier this month. At this point, missing out on him absolutely be considered a disappointment.
Another DL isn’t added
Troy James is Arkansas only current defensive line commit in the class. The 3-star end from Madison Prep Academy (Baton Rouge, La.) isn’t the only one the Hogs intend to sign. With time and options running out, they’d ideally secure another as soon as possible.
The Hogs have mostly filled their needs at all other position groups with the current 21 commits/signees. An expected shift to the 3-4 defense makes signing defensive linemen a little less pressing, and more urgent for outside linebackers. Arkansas would consider taking another linebacker in this class, but those needs have been filled with three linebackers expected in this class and four signed last year.
In particular, the Hogs can use another player in this class capable of playing nose tackle in the 3-4. James doesn’t fit that spot, at least not immediately. Blinn College (Brenham, Texas) 3-star defensive tackle Javier Edwards was thought to be that player until he signed with Colorado last week.
Current commit signs elsewhere
One of Arkansas’ current commits going elsewhere would be like a lump of coal in the stocking — duh! Any school losing a wanted commit this late in the process is a disappointment.
But consider the effort the Hogs’ coaching staff has put in to keep much of this class committed for several months. Of the current 21 combined commits and signees, 18 initially committed last spring or summer.
The staff often mentions how they continue recruiting committed every bit as hard as the uncommitted. That’s a lot of invested time and energy on the recruiting trail if one were to back out in the final month before National Signing Day.
There aren’t many candidates to potentially de-commit. Nine have already signed either a National Letter of Intent or financial aid agreement and are expected to join the program in January. Let’s consider those players locked in.
Among the other 12, none should be expected to go elsewhere. That doesn’t mean the Razorbacks won’t have to fight to keep them all. For example, a couple commits have recently received offers from other Power 5 Conference schools. Wide receiver Maleek Barkley picked up an offer from Michigan State earlier this month. Running back Maleek Williams was offered by Oregon last week, but says he remains firmly committed to Arkansas.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.