Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss the newest commitment, a pair of former commits and a previous top target heading elsewhere.
Chad Morris snags first major in-state recruit with commitment from LaDarrius Bishop
Arkansas experienced one of its most successful recruiting days in recent years Sunday, securing the commitments of three 2018 prospects who were pledged to other programs.
Among those three, the most significant was Ashdown (Ark.) cornerback LaDarrius Bishop. That’s not to say the other two — wide receiver Mike Woods and offensive lineman Silas Robinson — aren’t valuable additions. But they were previously committed to SMU, so they already had a strong connection with Chad Morris and the new Hogs coaching staff.
Bishop, one the other hand, had been committed to Mississippi State since July. He’s the No. 5 overall prospect from Arkansas in the class according to the 247Sports composite. Keeping such a talented in-state player from heading to an SEC West rival is a highly significant recruiting victory.
It’s clear Morris circled Bishop as a top priority immediately after being hired last week. Arkansas assistant Barry Lunney Jr., who is being retained from the previous staff, visited Bishop last week. Morris, Lunney and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock were in Ashdown on Sunday evening having dinner with Bishop.
Morris and Co. were certainly helped in their pursuit of Bishop by the departure of coach Dan Mullen from Mississippi State. The breaking up of the Bulldogs staff prompted Bishop to evaluate his options. But the new staff still had to fend off inquiries from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, UCLA and TCU to secure the commitment.
This all proves Morris meant it when he said last week that the state of Arkansas would be the top recruiting priority. There were other attractive options to potentially pursue at cornerback, but the in-state player was at the top of the list.
Former commit Byron Hanspard II hasn’t heard from new staff
Arkansas’ new staff has made the rounds connecting with several of the prospects who were committed to former coach Bret Bielema’s staff. Surprisingly, DeSoto (Texas) 4-star cornerback Byron Hanspard II had not been one of them as of Sunday evening.
Hanspard confirmed to SEC Country he has not spoken with Arkansas since Morris was hired and has no relationship with the former SMU coach or his staff. He was one of Arkansas’ top commitments in the 2018 class until rescinding his pledge late last month. He stated that his de-commitment was due to the uncertainty surrounding Bielema’s firing.
Arkansas OL target Curtis Dunlap Jr. pledges to Minnesota
Curtis Dunlap Jr., a top target of the previous staff, has committed to Minnesota. The 4-star offensive tackle from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) announced his pledge to the Gophers on Saturday.
Dunlap officially visited Arkansas in early November for the Hogs’ matchup with Coastal Carolina. At the time, he was in the process of re-evaluating his options after de-committing from Florida. He described his visit to Fayetteville as an awesome experience, though he seemed clearly tied to the previous coaching staff.
Former commit Maureese Wren pledges to Louisiana Tech
In a surprise move, former Arkansas commit Maureese Wren announced his commitment to Louisiana Tech on Sunday.
Wren is a 3-star athlete recruit from Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas. He committed to the Hogs over Colorado in early August and retracted that pledge seven weeks later. He was set to play outside linebacker at Arkansas, which apparently was not his desired position. The old Razorbacks staff offered him as a wide receiver — his primary high school position — two months after his de-commitment.
His commitment to Louisiana Tech comes despite Wren having 13 offers from Power 5 programs.
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