FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman covered several topics surrounding spring football on Thursday, but also talked some recruiting.

The Razorbacks had some recruits watching the practice including Mansfield (Texas) Class of 2023 four-star defensive lineman Kaleb James who is committed to the Hogs and Greenwood Class of 2026 quarterback Kane Archer. The young quarterback already has offers to Arkansas, Missouri and Michigan.

Pittman talked about the benefits of having recruits watch practice and much more.

Spring Evaluation Period

For the first time in three years at Arkansas Sam Pittman’s staff will be able to hit the recruiting road in the spring to check in on prospects and watch them practice.

The NCAA doesn’t allow the head coach to go out in the spring, but allows all 10 on-field assistants to go out recruiting. The last two years this hasn’t been allowed due to concerns with COVID. Pittman is pleased the NCAA is once again allowing it.

“I told our staff that you make less mistakes in recruiting by going to see them and then have them in camp,” Pittman said. “Obviously for a majority of my head coaching, we haven’t been able to do that. The other thing is the board. I think where we’re pretty good right now is our recruiting board. You make mistakes in recruiting when you don’t have anybody on your board that you can get. What happens is you go, ‘Well, ‘ol kid plays hard, maybe we’ll turn him into a superstar.’ That usually doesn’t happen because he has to have something, some size, something like that. I think the biggest thing right now changing in recruiting is who we’re recruiting against. I think when we first got here, we were battling a lot of schools that weren’t SEC schools and now, because of the success the kids had last year, we’re in battles with everybody. To be honest, that’s where Arkansas should be, but we weren’t that way in at least a year and a half of recruiting.”

Recruits Watching Practice

As noted, some recruits were at Thursday’s practice and there has been a steady stream of prospects watching the Hogs work this spring.

Arkansas has recruits come to Prospect Day and the games in the fall, but Pittman also likes them to watch practice.

“Yeah, I think it’s a big, big deal for us,” Pittman said. “I’m sure every school in the country is working on it. And you know, I like the way we’re working. You know, I like our team. But I think it’s important. You know, it’s a comfortability thing. In other words, if I go to a meeting, to a practice, go down and watch individuals, things of that nature, I think it makes a player more comfortable shutting down questions in their mind. ‘Well, this is how it’s going to be.’ Because we all in recruiting, we talk to them and say, ‘This is how going to be.’ And hopefully whatever we say it’s gonna be, that’s how it’s gonna be, and they see it. And then you start building a trust factor with them a little bit.”

Two Punters on Scholarship

Arkansas has Reid Bauer back this season who handled the punting in 2021 and much of the time in previous seasons as well.

However, in December, Pittman opted to sign another punter as well. He and Scott Fountain reached into Australia to land Max Fletcher. Was Fletcher too good to pass on since usually the Hogs have one each of a kicker, punter and long snapper on scholarship. Instead of waiting a year for Bauer to be gone and then ink a punter Pittman jumped on Fletcher.

“Yes,” Pittman said. “He still has to win the job over Bauer. Bauer did a really fine job for us. But yes, I think he had really too live of a leg for us to say, ‘We’re going to turn that guy down.’ And I think part of it, too, is that we found out how valuable putting a scholarship is into punter and a kicker. And you know, without a scholarship, we don’t have Cam Little, and I don’t know, in the end, he didn’t win the game, I’m not saying that. But in the end, what he does for living is going to win or lose the game for you. And I think there’s several games last year that I never thought about him missing. I just thought, ‘Can we get close enough for him to kick it?’ So there’s a lot of value there. But, to answer your question, yes.”

Caliber of Recruits Looking at Hogs

Pittman was asked since the 9-4 season and, in general, the upbeat direction of the program is the caliber of athlete considering the Hogs better now?

“Yeah, big-time. If you look at all the junior days we had in [January and March],” Pittman said. “Anyway. In January we had three or four weekends, and… Y’all wrote about them. I mean, we had some really good kids, and we got kids coming in, too. And we’re in it, you know, and that’s the biggest thing. You might have the great one come with another kid, and the great one right now is coming to see us. And obviously we have to be good closers and all that stuff. But I think the kids feel what we do about Arkansas. People can be yourself and sell the University, you know. And so, I’ve got a really good group of coaches that do that.”