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.
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.
The linebacker depth seems thin. Are there any recruits that can help that?
Yes, but first let’s look at the young linebackers they already have on campus who have a chance to form a solid group over the next couple of years. Arkansas’ 2016 recruiting class was strong at the position with four signees — De’Jon Harris, Giovanni LaFrance, Alexy Jean-Baptiste and Dee Walker. The coaching staff really liked that group on National Signing Day and, by all accounts, the four freshmen have been impressive since arriving in Fayetteville. The problem for this season is none of them — except Harris — are ready to contribute immediately, so the unit apparently remains thin of capable players behind or next to starters Brooks Ellis and Dre Greenlaw for now.
As for the future, the Hogs are again looking to bring in multiple prospects at linebacker in the 2017 class. Archbishop Rummel High School (Metairie, La.) 3-star talent Derrick Munson and De La Salle High School (New Orleans) 3-star player Josh Paul have committed to the class. Both are viewed as underrated talents by the coaching staff and would give Arkansas a strong young core of players for the future. So, Vernon Hargreaves, with help from Michael Smith’s ability to recruit Louisiana, has his linebacker group back in good shape after recent lapses in recruiting and development left the position thin the past two seasons.
What’s the latest with the Fayetteville defensive lineman (Akial Byers)?
The recruitment, or lack thereof, of Fayetteville High School 4-star 2017 defensive lineman Akial Byers has been puzzling to Arkansas fans. Byers (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) committed to Alabama in July and still doesn’t have an offer from the Razorbacks. It’s rare such a highly touted local prospect ends up elsewhere and unheard of to see one not even offered by Arkansas. The Hogs currently have six players from Fayetteville High, which sits less than a mile from Arkansas’ football facilities, on the roster.
It’s not that Arkansas didn’t show any interest in Byers. The coaching staff had been in regular contact with him and even hosted him on a visit in the spring. Sources have indicated to SEC Country that things did not go well after the visit, leaving both parties unpleased. No program knows what’s going on with Fayetteville players better than Arkansas, and the Razorbacks feel they’ve had good reason to not offer Byers. So, don’t expect him in the 2017 class.
How is (basketball coach) Mike Anderson all of the sudden having so much recruiting success?
As Arkansas fans know, it hasn’t been because of a successful 2015-16 season, so this is an interesting question. Anderson’s team went 16-16 last season, his worst since arriving in 2011. Yet, the program has been on fire on the recruiting trail as of late. The Hogs have had five prospects commit — guard Khalil Garland (’17), forward Reggie Perry (’18), forward Ethan Henderson (’18), guard Desi Sills (’18) and guard Isaiah Joe (’18) — in the past two months.
The key has been an elevated level of in-state talent recently and an emphasis on making sure those players don’t leave the state. The Razorbacks have eight commits combined in the next three recruiting classes and all are in-state prospects with the exception of Perry, who previously lived in Little Rock until moving to Georgia a few years ago. It’s helped that many of these players have a close connection. Several of them play AAU together for the Arkansas Hawks. It’s been sort of a domino effect with Hawks players. One commits, then the next, then the next and so on. Anderson’s program is riding that wave with five players on the Hawks’ under-16 team currently committed.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.