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.
How big would a win over Alabama be for recruiting?
An Arkansas win Saturday would be huge for a lot of obvious reasons. A win over the No. 1 team in the country, back in contention to win the SEC West and first victory over Alabama in 10 years. But it’s also a huge weekend for recruiting in Fayetteville.
First, the Hogs are looking to impress some 2017 recruits taking an official visit for the game. Most notably among those are Michigan safety commit J’Marick Woods, Kansas defensive line commit Troy James and Oklahoma State defensive end commit Nelson Mbanasor. There will also be a long list of prominent 2018 and 2019 prospects taking unofficial visits. The atmosphere surrounding the 6 p.m. CT kick at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium will no doubt help impress the visitors. Combine that with a victory, or at least a competitive game, and the Hogs will certainly have made a huge positive impact on the recruiting trail.
Arkansas gained some momentum among recruits after its win at TCU earlier this season. Some of that was lost after falling to Texas A&M two weeks ago in Arlington, Texas. All that recruiting momentum can be regained and then some with a win Saturday.
Are the current flaws in the offensive line a result of poor recruiting?
Those struggles are likely a mix of several things, but I don’t think poor recruiting is among them. Arkansas did a solid job of landing players under former offensive line coach Sam Pittman, who is now in the same position at Georgia. Recruiting hasn’t skipped a beat since new coach Kurt Anderson arrived last January. Anderson has three offensive linemen with offers and a preferred walk-on committed to the Razorbacks’ 2017 class.
But even though they haven’t lacked for recruiting offensive linemen in solid numbers, this is a program that relies heavily on years of development for players. The Hogs aren’t looking to play their offensive line recruits until they’ve been on campus a while. So the early departure of tackle Denver Kirkland has forced their hand to play some guys before they’re likely ready. Kirkland declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season in 2015. His vacated spot has really been the key hole on the offensive line — a tackle opposite Dan Skipper on the left side. As a result, redshirt freshman Colton Jackson, and sophomores Brian Wallace and Zach Rogers have all seen their development rushed with playing time a little earlier than expected. Injuries to sophomore Jalen Merrick and junior Paul Ramirez in fall camp have also resulted in less depth than would be ideal. I think those issues, more than recruiting, have been key to some of the offensive line struggles so far this season.
What are your thoughts on (2018 QB commit) Connor Noland? Does he come to Arkansas or is he going to play pro baseball?
It’s still too early to tell on Noland, a 4-star prospect from Greenwood (Ark.) High School. A lot will depend on his baseball development over the next year. He’s currently a promising right-handed pitcher, who is also committed to the Hogs’ baseball program, with a fastball that tops out at 92 mph. For a high school junior, that’s really impressive and likely puts him on track to almost certainly be selected in the 2018 MLB Draft.
However, he told SEC Country last summer it’s a situation he’s already thought about and that it would take “a lot of money” for him to forgo college. He’s also been heavily recruiting other prospects to take a look at the Razorbacks since he announced his commitment in July. That shows he’s already investing in the program, a promising sign for his chances of ending up in Fayetteville in two years.
One other thing to consider with Noland is the status of offensive coordinator Dan Enos at Arkansas. Noland told SEC Country when he committed that Enos played a major role in his choice. Enos will almost certainly be at Arkansas as long as he wants to be, but there’s always the possibility a program comes calling with a head coaching opportunity.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.