Arkansas Extends Search for Prospects Nationally, but Could be More Regional in Future


Photo by Otis Kirk.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas did some national recruiting this year to put together the Class of 2020.

Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman talked about that on Wednesday explaining what the needs were for this class.

“We ended up having a good class and I want to thank our assistant coaches who put together the class that we just did,” Pittman said. “The  credit goes solely to our assistant coaches.  They went out  and built relationships in a short period of time.  And I think that tells you a lot about who we have on our staff. 

“We ended up signing 23 players, 15 of them on defense and eight on offense. We went out with position of needs.  Those five positions were quarterback, tight end, and basically the defense:  D-line, linebackers and cornerbacks.  When I say needs I’m not talking about talent.  I’m talking about numbers.  On our board our numbers were low -from what we consider low – on the defensive side of the board at tight end and quarterback.  And so we went up there and tried to address those needs. We signed four kids from Arkansas, four from Georgia, three from Tennessee, three from Texas, two from Oklahoma, two from Louisiana, two from Florida, one from Connecticut, one from Illinois and one from Missouri.”

At quarterback, Arkansas added Florida transfer Feleipe Franks and Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall’s Malik Hornsby. The Razorbacks signed Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus tight end Collin Sutherland.

The 15 recruits on defense will help provide some depth there. The defensive linemen are LaGrange (Ga.) Troup County’s Andy Boykin, East Mississippi Community College’s Julius Coates, Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County’s Jaqualin McGhee, Jonesboro’s Jashaud Stewart, Hazen’s Blayne Toll and Bryant’s Catrell Wallace. Stewart and Wallace could also play some outside linebacker.

At linebacker, Arkansas added Atlanta (Ga.) Woodward Academy’s Jacorrei Turner, Joe T. Robinson’s JT Towers, Pensacola (Fla.) Booker T. Washington’s Eric Thomas, Oklahoma transfer Levi Draper and Harvey (La.) Helen Cox’s Kelin Burrle.

In the secondary, Arkansas added Arkansas State transfer Jerry Jacobs, New Orleans (La.) Brother Martin’s Nick Turner, Suffield (Conn.) Academy’s Khari Johnson and Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School’s Myles Slusher.

Pittman talked more about the need for help on defense.

“We sat down, I sat and watch every player that we’re trying to recruit, and the guys rank them,” Pittman said. “I tell you, I was really, really excited when I got to sit down with Coach (Barry) Odom and talk about the guys on the board. Rion Rhoades proved that you don’t have to have experience at the D-I level to be an elite recruiter. He went out there and we really addressed that linebacker and that D-line positions. 

“You’re right, we needed some numbers and some players at the position a little bit more, and Coach Rhoades addressed that early. Our defensive board, I think we had 13 guys, 14 guys committed early. So I think that guys want to come in and play for Coach Odom and those guys.”

Arkansas was able to land a cornerback from Connecticut, a place not known as a recruiting stop for the Hogs normally.

“Sam Carter knew him (DB Khari Johnson from Connecticut) was the first thing about it,” Pittman said. “Then a lot of other schools got involved with him after he committed to Arkansas. But we have a private plane. We can get all the places, you know. Just like every other school in the SEC.

“The bottom line is we have a lot of coaches from different areas. They know a lot of people and we found out who we liked and tried to get a relationship with them. 

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know we had 10 different states and all that kind of stuff. We were going to so fast, we were just trying to get people that we liked that liked us. Khari is obviously the one you’re talking about in Connecticut, and we were really excited to get him. He’s fast.”

In the future, Pittman notes Arkansas will likely have more of a regional flavor to the class.

“I think we’re a regional, I’ve told you before, I think we’re a regional recruiting university,” Pittman said. “I think every year that will be the case but this year might be somewhat a little bit different because we didn’t have enough. A lot of the players were gone already before we could really get involved. Then, we didn’t have the whole year to make relationships. I’m not making excuses for where we finished, I’m not. I’m just telling you that I think we are going to be a little more regional based in the future.”

Pittman and the Razorbacks will open the 2020 season in Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Nevada on Saturday, Sept. 5.

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