Join us here at SEC Country for the “Trent’s Trough” notebook as Arkansas Razorbacks beat writer Trent Shadid provides the latest insight on all Hogs recruiting news.
Bielema enjoying fruits of recruiting Louisiana
When coach Bret Bielema first arrived at Arkansas in December of 2012 he admittedly didn’t have a very clear understanding for how important recruiting Louisiana could be to the success of his program.
“I would say that Louisiana in general since coming to Arkansas has been the biggest surprise (in recruiting),” Bielema said Monday during his weekly news conference.
“I really had never recruited in Louisiana, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, anywhere from A to Z and in between until I came to Arkansas.”
It didn’t take long for Bielema to recognize the state’s rich high school talent, and a little over a month after taking the job he hired New Orleans native and ace recruiter Michael Smith to be the Hogs’ wide receivers coach. Bielema hired Smith away from Kansas State, his alma mater, where the two had previously worked together under Bill Snyder.
“Michael and I were very close on the Kansas State staff,” Bielema said. “As I took this job and realized that I wanted to recruit Louisiana and I needed a wide receiver coach, that’s when my eyes really turned to Mike. The prominence that he’s had in there … I mean it’s just overwhelming.”
Smith has done so well recruiting The Boot, LSU inquired about the possibility of hiring him away from Arkansas after last season. He eventually stayed with the Hogs, signing a new contract in the offseason that makes him the third-highest paid assistant on the staff behind both coordinators.
And with Smith’s return, the success in Louisiana has continued. Arkansas has three prospects from the state committed for the 2017 class. That’s in addition to the 10 on the current roster, most of which have either played significantly or caught the attention of the coaching staff as future starters.
“For us in recruiting, the state of Louisiana has probably been our most productive state,” Bielema said. “We may not have the largest number, but for the players we recruit and the product in return, it’s off the charts. And really no academic casualties, no social casualties. The kids from Louisiana they are very adherent, at least the ones that we’ve recruited, into success in the world academically, socially and on the football field.”
Pool rated as top MLB in Texas for 2018
Recent 2018 Arkansas commit Bumper Pool has been rated by Lone Star Prospects as the top middle linebacker in Texas for his class.
Pool (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) announced his pledge to the Hogs on Monday night. He grew up an Arkansas fan and was in attendance for the Razorbacks’ 31-10 win over Florida last Saturday.
The Lovejoy High School (Lucas, Texas) standout is the No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 17 overall prospect in Texas for the class.
— Lone Star Prospects (@LoneStarHSFB) November 8, 2016
LB target Johnston sets state tackles record
Arkansas 2017 linebacker target Thomas Johnston recently broke Alabama’s state record for career tackles.
Johnston (6-2, 215), a 3-star recruit from Spanish Fort (Ala.) High School, recorded 18 tackles last Friday in a win over Carver High School (Montgomery, Ala.). That performance pushed his career total to 637, a state record.
“I think it would be pretty cool to set the record,” Johnston told AL.com last week. “It would be nice to have something that might stay in the record book for a while. But it is not near as important as getting back to the state championship game and winning it again.”
He’ll look to extend his record when Spanish Fort faces Hillcrest High School (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) on Friday in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.