Recruiting classes have an unpredictable value until the players actually have the chance to make an impact on the field.
With that in mind, SEC Country is taking a look at Arkansas’ first three recruiting classes under coach Bret Bielema (2013-2015).
Here’s how the stock on the 25 players the Razorbacks signed in 2015 has gone up, down, remained even or is still be to be determined.
Hjalte Froholdt, 4-star DT
Portfolio: Froholdt appeared in 10 games at defensive tackle as a freshman last season, but has since switched to offensive guard. He’s apparently made the transition seamlessly, impressing this spring as he appears to have a starting spot locked down entering this season.
Will Gragg, 4-star TE
Portfolio: The No. 8 tight end nationally in the the class, Gragg was a big get for the Razorbacks’ class. Arkansas beat out Alabama, Auburn, LSU and many others to land Gragg when he was a 4-star prospect from Dumas (Ark.) High School. He redshirted last season, but should have every opportunity to gain playing time and fulfill big expectations behind starter Jeremy Sprinkle.
Cheyenne O’Grady, 4-star TE
Portfolio: Another big get at the tight end position in this class, O’Grady was the No. 6 tight end as a 4-star prospect out of Fayetteville (Ark.) High School. Like Gragg, he redshirted last season and has the opportunity to gain significant playing time this season as the Razorbacks regularly deploy two tight ends.
Ty Storey, 4-star QB
Portfolio: Storey redshirted last season and lost out on a chance to take over the starting quarterback job this spring. Missing out on the chance at playing time is one thing, but Storey was never considered a serious contender in the competition as coach Bret Bielema singled out new starter Austin Allen and backup Rafe Peavey for separating themselves from the other quarterbacks.
Jamario Bell, 4-star DE
Portfolio: Bell has transitioned from defensive end to tight end after redshirting last season. Coming in as the No. 13 defensive end nationally and switching sides of the ball after just one season on campus can’t be a promising sign. While the Razorbacks are stacked with talent and depth on the defensive line, the same could be said for the tight end position with playing time likely hard to come by for Bell. However, he’ll at least get a chance in fall camp to prove he’s capable of playing behind Sprinkle this season.
Jalen Merrick, 4-star OL
Portfolio: Merrick will be one of several young offensive linemen competing for playing time with three starters needing to be replaced. His redshirt season a year ago appears to have been well spent, bulking up from 295 pounds to 326 entering this season.
Jeremiah Ledbetter, 4-star DL
Portfolio: Rated as the No. 1 defense end and No. 15 overall junior college prospect out of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, Ledbetter more than lived up to the hype in his first season. He took over as a starter in the second game of his Arkansas career and appeared in all 13 games in 2015. He finished fifth on the team in tackles with 55, fourth in tackles for loss with 7.5 and third in sacks with two. Expect Ledbetter to remain as an anchor on the defensive line once again this season.
Zach Rogers, 3-star OL
Portfolio: Rogers is expected to be the backup to Frank Ragnow, one of the Razorbacks top offensive linemen, at center this season after seeing action in three games a year ago. If the Razorbacks need to move Ragnow back to guard, where he started all 13 games last season, Rogers could be asked to step in as the starter. But moving Ragnow, a junior, to center may be a sign Rogers isn’t ready to hold a starting spot.
Austin Cantrell, 3-star TE
Portfolio: Cantrell was the least heralded recruit among the three tight ends the Razorbacks signed in this class. The expectations have apparently held true after one season as O’Grady and Gragg are the favorites to land playing time behind Sprinkle. Expect his best chances for playing time, and being able to identify his true impact on this class, to come later in his career.
Rawleigh Williams III, 3-star RB
Portfolio: Williams was off to a great start as a freshman last season, rushing for 254 yards over seven games with a 4.5 yards per carry average. He even posted a 100-yard game against Tennessee on just 14 carries. His season was cut short because of a neck injury against Auburn. Williams has the inside track to taking over as the primary running back this season, but he’ll have to show he’s fully healthy and hold off impressive freshman Devwah Whaley. Regardless, Williams is on the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list and Bielema stated at SEC Media Days he believes Williams can rush for 1,000 yards this season.
Colton Jackson, 3-star OL
Portfolio: After redshirting last season, most indications have Jackson taking over as the starting left tackle this fall. A 3-star prospect and the No. 65 offensive tackle nationally in this class, becoming a starter up front for Bielema after only one season on campus is an impressive feat.
Dominique Reed, 3-star WR
Portfolio: Reed struggled to adjust to major college football early last season after transferring from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College with just two receptions over the first four games. But he quickly became a dynamic playmaker over the final nine games, catching 26 passes for 526 yards and six touchdowns in that span. He’s widely considered one of the fastest players in the SEC and expects to be the primary deep threat in a loaded receiving corps this season.
La’Michael Pettway, 3-star ATH
Portfolio: Landing Pettway, a two-way standout at Nashville (Ark.) High School, was big for this class because the Razorbacks beat out Alabama and Mississippi among others. He’s become a wide receiver since arriving and redshirted last season. Playing time will be hard to come by this season with several experienced receivers returning, but 2017 could be Pettway’s chance to become a star.
Daytrieon Dean, 3-star DL
Portfolio: Dean redshirted last season and will have a tough time gaining much playing time this season. That’s not necessarily a knock against him because the Razorbacks are loaded on the defensive line with a combination of five upperclassmen and 5-star freshman McTelvin Agim expected to receive most of the playing time.
Deon Stewart, 3-star WR
Portfolio: Like Pettway, Stewart redshirted last season and will likely find playing time sparse this season because of the experience at wide receiver.
Dre Greenlaw, 3-star S
Portfolio: Greenlaw is easily the diamond in the rough of this class so far. He came in as a 3-star safety prospect whose only other Power Five offer was from Washington State. He quickly transitioned to outside linebacker and started 11 games last season, finishing fifth nationally and first in the SEC among freshman with 95 tackles. He expects to remain a major part of the Razorbacks’ defense going forward.
Nate Dalton, 3-star CB
Portfolio: Dalton redshirted last season and his best chance at playing time in 2016 will likely be at free safety with seniors Jared Collins and D.J. Dean holding down the starting cornerback positions. It’s likely Dalton won’t get a chance to see much playing time besides special teams until 2017.
Derrick Graham, 3-star LB
Portfolio: Seeing the field in 2016 as a linebacker will be tough for anyone outside of Greenlaw and senior middle linebacker Brooks Ellis. That being said, the redshirt freshman Graham could have a chance at playing time when the Razorbacks deploy three linebackers, something they’ll likely look to do more than last season if they can find capable players.
Kendrick Jackson, 3-star LB
Portfolio: Jackson was used a versatile talent in his freshman season, playing in 11 games with one start at fullback. He likely won’t become a regular until Brooks Ellis is gone, but he appears to be the clear replacement to him at middle linebacker beyond the 2016 season.
Ryan Pulley, 3-star CB
Portfolio: Pulley became a solid contributor right away, and he was one of only nine SEC freshman to record an interception last season. He appeared in 10 games with one start and could push for a decent amount of playing once again. As mentioned, Dean and Collins are virtual locks to start, so expect Pulley to have a chance to make his mark after this season.
T.J. Smith, 3-star DE
Portfolio: Smith enters his redshirt freshman season with a chance to work his way into the deep defensive line rotation. However, don’t expect him to become a starter until Ledbetter and others are gone after this season.
Willie Sykes, 3-star CB
Portfolio: Sykes played in 12 games last season, mostly on special teams, before leaving the program and transferring to Independence (Kan.) Community College.
Josh Allen, 3-star OL
Portfolio: After not playing as a freshman, Bielema announced in the spring Allen had been indefinitely dismissed from the team.
Blake Johnson, 3-star punter
Portfolio: Johnson, a redshirt freshman, was solid in the spring game with a 39.7-yard average on six punts. He’s clearly behind starting senior Toby Baker and will have a chance to take over as the starter after this season.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.