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.
With Arkansas set to host No. 10 Florida on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), this edition of Trent’s Trough will focus on past-and-present recruiting battles between the Hogs and Gators.
Arkansas-Florida 2017 recruiting battles
Arkansas and Florida are contending to land several big-time recruits in the 2017 class. Some players already have announced their commitment to one of the schools. Others remain undecided, with both programs very much in play.
Here’s a look at some of the top recruiting battles involving the Hogs and Gators in the 2017 class:
- 4-star OL Aaron Banks: Both programs are in need of offensive line commits and apparently still in contention for the No. 19 offensive tackle in the class. He released his top 10 in late August with the Hogs and Gators making the list.
- 4-star RB Chase Hayden: An Arkansas commit, Hayden is shaping up to be one of the gems of this class for the Hogs. The Gators made a strong push and were believed to be in contention before Hayden narrowed his options last summer and eventually chose Arkansas.
- 4-star LB Rahyme Johnson: Florida has long been considered a strong contender to land one of California’s top prospects. The Hogs recently joined the race for Johnson by extending an offer last week.
- 3-star DT Javier Edwards: Despite his commitment to Florida over the summer, Arkansas has continued to heavily recruit the Blinn (Texas) College prospect. It’s a situation to keep a close eye on with the Hogs able to sell the idea of early playing time.
- 3-star LB James Houston: Arkansas linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves led the charge to keep the Hogs in consideration for Houston before he committed to Florida in July.
Arkansas-Florida 2016 recruiting scoreboard
Continuing to look at recruiting battles between Arkansas and Florida, here’s a glance at the competition between the schools in the 2016 class.
By the numbers
- 0: 5-star prospects signed by Florida
- 1: 5-star prospect signed by Arkansas
- 1: Arkansas signees with an offer from Florida
- 5: Florida signees with an offer from Arkansas
- 5: 4-star prospects signed by Arkansas
- 9: 4-star prospects signed by Florida
- 23: The final class ranking for Arkansas
- 12: The final class ranking for Florida
Most competitive signings
- 4-star WR Tyrie Cleveland (Fla.): Arkansas was among Cleveland’s top choices leading up to National Signing Day. He even took an official visit to Fayetteville just a few weeks before signing with Florida, a shocker as he was committed to Houston at the time. Though he’s been limited by injury and a one-game suspension, he has 7 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown this season.
- 4-star WR Freddie Swain (Fla.): Former Arkansas assistant and current Florida assistant Randy Shannon initially had the Hogs on Swain’s radar early in his recruitment. He settled on the Gators and has 2 touchdown receptions this season.
- 3-star CB Joseph Putu (Fla.): Coming out of North Dakota State College of Science, Putu pulled a National Signing Day stunner by flipping from his commitment to Arkansas and signing with Florida without ever having visited Gainesville.
- 3-star LB Dee Walker (Ark.): Florida was among Walker’s final three schools before he committed to Arkansas just a week before signing with the Hogs on National Signing Day.
Recruiting in enemy territory
Arkansas has heavily recruited the deep talent pool in the Gators’ home state. The Hogs have done so with some success, especially in the four seasons under coach Bret Bielema.
Since his days as an assistant at Iowa in the mid-1990s, Bielema estimates he’s signed “70 or 80” Florida recruits.
“You know, Florida players are unique,” Bielema said Wednesday during the SEC teleconference. “One of the great things that I remember in my career, I had to beg (former Iowa) coach (Hayden) Fry to let me go down and recruit south Florida.
“And coming from a small town in Illinois, I’ll never forget the first week of recruiting down there. You’ve got island kids, you’ve got southern kids, you’ve got northern kids that have moved down there. You have a mixed bag. You have coaches that, in the same regard, come from all different kinds of backgrounds.”
The Hogs currently have nine Florida natives on the roster. That’s the fourth-most from any state — behind Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana.
“You’re always going to get a player that I think has extreme confidence,” Bielema said. “Every one of them you could say don’t lack confidence. They believe in their abilities. They play with a swagger. They play with an attitude.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.