By Otis Kirk
Arkansas has 19 verbal commitments, but expect that number to go up considerably by the Feb. 6 National Signing Day.
The early signing period is Dec. 19-21. The NCAA allows a school to sign 25 players in one year, but the Hogs also could count four back to the 2018 class if they enrolled at midterm. That would be 29 new signees.
However, the NCAA also only allows a school to have 85 players on scholarship at one time. So the Hogs would have to lose some underclassmen to transfer, giving up football or something similar to get down to 56 returning players once the current seniors are gone.
Two players left the team this week, but senior Jonathan Nance doesn’t change the status of recruiting since he was a senior and wasn’t going to be back next year anyway. Sophomore linebacker Kyrei Fisher plans to transfer at midterm and that will open up a spot for the Hogs.
Arkansas currently has 83 scholarship players on the team after subtracting Nance and Fisher. They have 15 scholarship seniors. So to get to 56 players thus allowing 29 new additions the Hogs would have to still lose 12 players before the roster has to be turned in the summer of 2019.
Considering the attrition is usually pretty big the following year after a coach takes over losing that many in the next several months seems likely.
The current commitment list includes a quarterback, running back, three wide receivers and a trio of offensive linemen. On defense, there’s seven linemen, a linebacker, two cornerbacks and a safety.
If all the commitments hold as they are, that would mean up to 10 more additions in the class. The regular season is just four games old, but here’s an updated look at how the class additions could look like if 10 more added.
1. An older quarterback could be a possibility to go with KJ Jefferson. That could be a graduate transfer such as Clemson’s Kelly Bryant or a junior college player. Arkansas currently has five scholarship quarterbacks, but as is the nature at that position one or two could transfer at the end of the season. Not saying anyone will, but as noted that is just the nature of that position. Who might leave, if anyone, can be better answered at the conclusion of the season. Saturday’s Texas A&M game will be the first time any quarterback has started two games in a row assuming as scheduled Ty Storey goes out for the first series. He also started the Auburn game. Cole Kelley started the Eastern Illinois game, then Storey at Colorado State and Kelley against North Texas.
2. Pulaski Academy tight end Hudson Henry is an obvious top target. Stanford is making a hard push, but the Hogs have to do everything in their power to keep this prize at home. He and wide receiver Treylon Burks, from Warren, are the top two players in the Class of 2019 inside the state.
3. Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida should find out on Monday where Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman wide receiver Trey Knox will spend the next 3-4 years of his football career. Mark Smith and Justin Stepp were at his game this past Friday. He is teammates with Arkansas commitment Adonis Otey, a cornerback.
4. Mansfield (Texas) Legacy defensive lineman Taurean Carter will announce his decision on Oct. 23. He will be at Arkansas for an official visit next weekend. He was with teammate Enoch Jackson, who is committed to the Hogs, for an unofficial visit to the North Texas game at Arkansas. Arkansas is battling Texas and others for Carter.
5-6. Arkansas has three offensive linemen committed and could add a couple of more. They are on several junior college offensive tackles. Among them are Saddleback (Calif.) College’s Tim Anderson, Navarro (Texas) Community College’s Josh Cooper and Iowa Central’s Myron Cunningham. Anderson will visit officially for the Alabama game next weekend while Cunningham will come in November and Cooper also is expecting to take a visit.
7. A linebacker. Arkansas has Richmond (Texas) Fort Bend Travis’ Zach Zimos committed. With Dre Greenlaw being a senior and Scoota Harris a possibility to head to the NFL with a strong junior season it’s likely the Hogs at least try to land one more linebacker in this class. Even if Harris stays for his senior season he would still just have one more year after this one. So it seems possible the Hogs try to add at least one more.
8-10. Secondary help seems likely despite three already committed. Arkansas has junior Ryan Pulley at one cornerback and then senior Santos Ramirez and sophomore Kamren Curl at the safeties. The other cornerback opposite Pulley has been in transition. In four games, sophomore Chevin Calloway, junior Britto Tutt and redshirt freshman Jarques McClellion have already started there. Calloway got the first two starts, but then hasn’t been with the team since the second game of the season. Tutt started the North Texas game, but then was injured. McClellion started at Auburn this past Saturday. Arkansas has two cornerbacks and a safety committed. They want to sign Mansfield Legacy safety Jalen Catalon who will join Jackson and Carter on an official visit to Arkansas next weekend. He is at OU this weekend. New Orleans (La.) Edna Carr defensive back Devin Bush will officially visit Arkansas for the LSU game. Arkansas is likely to add at least two more in the secondary while three is possible if they get the right trio.
This is just an estimate on how the Arkansas class could shape up if they do sign 29. This is just a scenario that could play out, but is likely to change several times between now and the end of the season and then the two signing periods.