Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss the top remaining positional priorities for the Hogs’ 2018 class.
Arkansas made it through the early signing period with eight players officially added to its 2018 class. There’s still plenty of work to be done, however, as the Hogs are planning to add another six to eight signees in February.
Coach Chad Morris recently mentioned offensive line, defensive line and the secondary as specific areas Arkansas has identified as high priorities with the remaining spots. It’s evident based on how the Hogs have recruited that running back also remains a position of priority.
Here’s the breakdown on each of those position groups, along with the current top targets at those spots:
Arkansas is going to deploy multiple defensive looks under new coordinator John Chavis. But based on his history and how the Hogs are recruiting, it seems obvious they primarily will use a four-man front.
The biggest issue with that is not having enough quality defensive line depth on the current roster. That was even true last season when the Hogs had a base 3-4 defense.
So, the staff is out heavily recruiting for the position group. Here’s the list of top targets with the latest information on Arkansas’ chances to sign them:
- Courtre Alexander, 3 stars, Owasso (Okla.): Courtre Alexander is set to officially visit Fayetteville this weekend. As of now, the Hogs are in good shape to land his commitment.
- Dorian Gerald, 3 stars, College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita, Calif.): Dorian Gerald was visited by defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell on Wednesday, and it appears he’ll now visit Arkansas. He’s a major target who could contribute right away as the top unsigned JUCO defensive end in the class.
- John Mincey, 3 stars, Clinch County (Homerville, Ga.): John Mincey is a former commit who is receiving heavy attention from some SEC schools closer to him, such as South Carolina and Tennessee. He also is no long expected to make his previously scheduled official visit to Fayetteville later this month. Obviously, Arkansas’ chances are not looking good.
- Caleb Okechukwu, 3 stars, St. John’s College High (Washington, D.C.): An Under Armour All-American, Caleb Okechekwu is receiving late attention from several programs. Arkansas is in the mix to land one of his final official visits.
- Tyree Wilson, 3 stars, West Rusk (New London, Texas): Committed to Texas A&M, Tyree Wilson is set to visit Arkansas this weekend. Getting him on campus is a strong indication the Hogs have a serious chance at flipping his commitment.
Safety is another position where Arkansas has lacked quality depth in recent years. The position has essentially been a three-player rotation for two starting spots the last two seasons. Two of those players — Josh Liddell and De’Andre Coley — are now out of eligibility.
Here’s the list of top targets at safety with the latest information on Arkansas’ chances to sign them:
- Aaron Brule, 3 stars, Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.): Aaron Brule could play either safety or outside linebacker at the next level. The Hogs would likely feature him at safety, at least initially. He’s been visited by the coaching staff this week and is expected to be on campus for an official visit this weekend. The Hogs are a legitimate contender to sign him, along with Oklahoma State and TCU.
- Myles Mason, 3 stars, Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.): Myles Mason visited Arkansas before the early signing period last month despite being committed to Mississippi State. That trip and the Bulldogs’ recent coaching change ultimately helped him decide to delay signing until February. Defensive coordinator John Chavis and secondary coach Ron Cooper visited him in Alabama earlier this week, certainly helping the Hogs’ chances. However, recent developments still point to Mississippi State as the favorite to sign him.
- Tyrus Wheat, 3 stars, Amite (La.): Like Brule, Tyrus Wheat could play at safety or outside linebacker in college. He’s committed to Missouri but is considering a visit to Arkansas this weekend.
Arkansas is projected to have four scholarship running backs on the roster next season and appears intent on adding a fifth. Though Chad Morris’ offense is a spread, no-huddle system, it’s still built around the run game, specifically, a two-back system that will likely feature a three- or four-back rotation on game day. Considering that, adding a fifth running back on scholarship makes sense.
Here’s the list of top running back targets with the latest information on Arkansas’ chances to sign them:
- Rakeem Boyd, 3 stars, Independence (Kan.) C.C.: Rakeem Boyd appears to be the top target at the position. He received a visit from running backs coach Jeff Traylor on Tuesday, and the meeting apparently went very well. Boyd will be on campus this weekend for an official visit with a commitment possible.
- Deneric Prince, 3 stars, Manvel (Texas): Deneric Prince is committed to Texas A&M, but is still considering a possible visit to Arkansas. It’s hard to gauge the Hogs’ chances until he commits to making that trip.
- Tony St. Julien, 3 stars, Vinton (La.): Tony St. Julien is expected to be on campus for an official visit in two weeks. Ole Miss and TCU are also top candidates to sign him.
- Charles Strong, 3 stars, Union County (Lake Butler, Fla.): A former Florida State commit, Charles Strong also is expected to visit Fayetteville in two weeks. He’ll officially visit Texas A&M this weekend and Ole Miss a week later.
The Hogs’ offensive line went from one of the best in the country in the first three seasons under Bret Bielema to one of the worst in the past two. The fall was drastic, shocking and played a major role in Bielema ultimately losing his job.
Now, Morris and his staff are charged with rebuilding that unit. The style of player being recruited will be slightly different with Arkansas now seeking more fleet-of-foot players up front. So, an overhaul of the unit is coming and it starts with recruiting in this class.
Here’s the list of top offensive line targets with the latest information on Arkansas’ chances to sign them:
- Jax Gasaway, 3 stars, Star City (Ark.): Arkansas’ coaching staff is expected to visit Jax Gasaway in Star City on Friday. That meeting is expected to help to determine where he stands with the Hogs. He hasn’t yet received any form of an offer form the new staff. If that changes with an immediate scholarship offer, Arkansas almost will certainly sign him.
- Luke Jones, 3 stars, Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.): It doesn’t look as if Arkansas has much of a chance at getting Luke Jones back in this class after he de-committed last month. He’s now pledged to Notre Dame, which he visited twice while still committed to Arkansas. The Fighting Irish recently lost their offensive line coach to the Chicago Bears, providing at least some slight hope for the Hogs.
- Ryan Winkel, 3 stars, Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.): Ryan Winkel will take an official visit to Arkansas next weekend. He recently told SEC Country the Hogs are one of his top choices, suggesting they have a great chance at signing him with a successful visit.
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