Kirk’s Korner: Chad Morris likes Recruiting Challenge at Arkansas

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By Otis Kirk

Arkansas coach Chad Morris likes the challenges recruiting brings to a program in this day and age. 

Morris and his staff have attacked recruiting since arriving in Fayetteville by simply rolling up their sleeves and going to work. It appears to be paying off for the Hogs.

The Hogs have 23 public commitments leaving them six scholarships assuming everyone committed sticks. On Friday night, Arkansas lost a pledge from Lufkin (Texas) defensive tackle Carl Williams. 

The Hogs still have eight defensive linemen committed. So unless someone else decommits then they seem to be fine there.

Arkansas does have two private commitments. But without considering them here’s a look at how the Hogs could use their final six scholarships. Obviously the two private pledges’ positions will be included in this. 

The Razorbacks want an older, dual-threat quarterback. Obviously the one they want is Clemson grad transfer Kelly Bryant. Arkansas did an in-home visit with him on Thursday and it went very well. He’s at Auburn this weekend for an official visit. An article on Friday night reported he was down to Missouri and Auburn, but several sources have shot that report down. It included no quotes from Bryant only speculation. Arkansas does have a pledge from Sardis (Miss.) North Panola quarterback KJ Jefferson. 

Arkansas is in the hunt for a pair of offensive linemen from the junior college ranks. Both will be at Arkansas next weekend for official visits. They are Lackawanna (Pa.) Community College’s Chibueze Nwanna, 6-8, 320, and Iowa Central Community College’s Myron Cunningham, 6-6, 300. Arkansas currently has three offensive linemen committed to sign, another pledged to be a preferred walk-on and then another possible PWO hopeful still in the playoffs. 

“We’ve got guys already targeted in this ’19 class,” Morris said about the offensive line. “We’re continuing to target more guys. Would love to get a couple of junior college older guys in. I think that’d give us an opportunity to have some experience to be able to come in here and create some competition.”

Dustin Fry, who coaches the offensive line, is at the El Toro Bowl in Yuma (Ariz.) today watching Nwanna and his teammates face Arizona Western College. On Sunday, Fry will see Cunningham in his bowl game. Iowa Central faces Monroe College in the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls (Iowa). 

On defense, the Hogs have four defensive backs committed. They are still on Mansfield (Texas) Legacy safety Jalen Catalon, 5-9, 180, and Harvey (La.) West Jefferson cornerback Gregory Brooks Jr, 5-10, 178. Brooks plans to announce his decision on Dec. 19. He is committed to Mississippi State, but also considering Hogs, Kansas State and maybe Kansas. Catalon has said he will announce his choice in January. 

Arkansas has one linebacker pledged and could use another. Among the possibilities are Fullerton (Calif.) College’s Caleb Johnson, 6-1, 215, Dyersburg (Tenn.) High School’s Chris Russell, 6-2, 220, and Dodge City (Kan.) Community College’s Lakia Henry, 6-1, 225. Johnson is on an official visit to Oregon this weekend. John Chavis plans to visit with him after he returns home. Henry is committed to Tennessee and Russell to Memphis. But both are considering other schools including Arkansas.

Morris expects to have several of his recruits on campus at midterm.

“I think up to 12,” Morris said. “I expect up to 12 to come in here in January.”

The early signing period is Dec. 19-21. Then the traditional signing period begins Feb. 6. 

“I anticipate signing in December probably anywhere from 22 to 25,” Morris said. “But overall getting in here probably somewhere around 29 new faces. We’ve got to create some competition, and competition brings out the best at every position.”

Arkansas has priorities at each position. Obviously they also have a back-up plan at each position including quarterback, but that won’t go into play until the priority prospect at each position makes a decision. 

Arkansas’ Eight Priority Recruits For Six Spots

Kelly Bryant, QB, 6-3, 215, Clemson Grad Transfer

Myron Cunningham, OL, 6-6, 300, Iowa Central Community College

Chibueze Nwanna, OL, 6-8, 320, Lackawanna (Pa.) Community College

Jalen Catalon, S, 5-9, 180, Mansfield (Texas) Legacy

Gregory Brooks Jr., CB, 5-10, 178, Harvey (La.) West Jefferson

Caleb Johnson, LB, 6-1, 215, Fullerton (Calif.) College

Chris Russell, LB, 6-2, 220, Dyersburg (Tenn.) High School

Lakia Henry, LB, 6-1, 225, Dodge City (Kan.) Community College

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