Join us daily at SEC Country for “Trent’s Trough” as Arkansas beat writer Trent Shadid provides the latest recruiting news.
For this edition of Trent’s Trough, Arkansas writer Trent Shadid answers questions from the mailbag submitted by fans on Twitter, Facebook and via email. To submit a question for future mailbags, tweet to @Shadid13, message Trent Shadid on Facebook or email Shadid13@gmail.com.
Where will this recruiting class end up in the rankings?
Based on 247Sports’ composite rankings, Arkansas’ 2017 class has a chance to be its first finish in the top 20 in 15 years. That’s if the Hogs can finish strong. We’ll have a good idea if that’s going to be the case by this weekend.
Two of Arkansas’ top remaining targets are expected to announce their commitment and sign in the coming days, with the junior college signing period opening Wednesday. The decision of Blinn College (Brenham, Texas) 3-star defensive tackle Javier Edwards is expected Wednesday afternoon. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 4-star wide receiver Brandon Martin will announce his choice the following day. Martin would join safety Montaric Brown, tight end Jeremy Patton and running back Chase Hayden as 4-star commits in the class.
The Hogs are optimistic about their chances to land both. I’ll let you know more about that later.
If Arkansas gets both players, the class will immediately vault near the top 20. The Hogs are currently No. 24, and No. 23 is their highest finish of the Bret Bielema era.
With 19 commits right now, the additions of Edwards and Martin would bring the class to near completion, with a few highly touted high school targets still available. At the top of that list likely are 4-star cornerback Chevin Calloway and 3-star linebacker Thomas Johnston. A decision from those two appears to be coming in late January.
The best-case scenario is obviously Arkansas acquiring all four of the targets mentioned above. If so, or even just three out of the four, the chances for a top-20 class are highly likely. If the Hogs miss out and have to scramble for others, expect the class to finish in the 25-to-30 range.
What are Arkansas’ chances to get Edwards and Martin?
Arkansas gained a lot of headway with both of these guys during the recent contact period.
Defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads visited Edwards in early December. The 6-foot-3, 338-pound defensive tackle took an official visit to Fayetteville just days later. The other contenders are Colorado and UNLV for the one-time Florida commit. He’s planned his decision for Wednesday afternoon. If it’s not Arkansas, I’d be surprised.
Martin received two separate visits in Mississippi from the coaching staff during the contact period. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos and wide receivers coach Michael Smith made the first trip; Bielema made the second with Smith. The staff saw Martin along with 3-star wide receiver commit Jonathan Nance, who also is from Mississippi Gulf Coast. SEC West rivals Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State are still in play, but as with Edwards, I expect Martin to go with the Hogs when he announces Thursday.
What’s the significance of midterm enrollees going through bowl practices?
As far as preparing the team for the Belk Bowl, there is no significance. This is strictly a long-term move for the early enrollees who are choosing to join the team for a few bowl practices in Fayetteville.
The most obvious benefit is the accelerated acclimation process. The players can become familiar with drills and the practice environment, among other things. So, when spring and fall practices roll around, the adjustments aren’t as steep.
Those planning to go through some of the bowl practices are expected to arrive this weekend and be around the team until Dec. 24 when they depart for Charlotte.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.