There may be no more ridiculous process in the sports world than the college football recruiting season. Having said that, it's an important part of the overall package, and the Hogs just wrapped up a recruiting class that's inspired a pretty wide range of opinions. So, let's discuss and see where things stand.
On the positive side,and company have a pretty stocked offensive cupboard, so they rightfully focused the bulk of their attention on defense and special teams, and in those areas we seemed to do ok. In particular, defensive linemen of Junction City and surprise late pickup Calvin Barnett of Tulsa are said to be guys who can contribute right away (although there may be some eligibility issues with Barnett - keep your fingers crossed).
On the negative side, the SEC is ruthless when it comes to recruiting - it's pretty painful to realize that we had a class ranked 30something (or 40something) nationally and were still behind nine other teams in the conference. Plus, I don't care how many RBs you already have on the roster - when the #1 high school RB in the nation is from Little Rock, you need to get that guy. Even taking off my Razorback-colored glasses for a second, you'd like to believe that it would be easier to attract more top-quality defensive recruits when there are such obvious opportunities for immediate playing time (not to mention offensive players who might like to catch passes from Ryan Mallett for at least a year).
But, Petrino and his staff seem genuinely pleased with the results, and it's safe to say that they're a bit more dialed-in than all the various armchair quarterbacks lurking out there on the internet (present company excepted, of course!), so I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Let's see what others more knowledgeable than I am have to say:
* Jim Harris of AS360, a perennial favorite of the Expats, weighs in with a typically insightful and in depth column that also has one of the all-time great "damning with faint praise" headlines: "Hogs and Petrino Don't Come Close to 'Worst Class Ever' Label". Uh, I guess that's good news?
* The Slophouse's Brandon Marcello has put together a massive compendium of signing day links...we won't requote them all here, but the post is a must-read.
* As always, AS360's Chris Bahn is the voice of reason, weighing in with a well-reasoned column that reminds us that what really matters is what happens on the field, and that current stars Greg Childs and Tennarius Wright were low-rated recruits coming out of high school.
* Recruiting coordinator Tim Horton was bullish, saying it was the best of his three classes with Petrino.
* Blogger/professional shit-stirrer Clay Travis has a harsher take on how it all turned out, basically dogging the Razorbacks up and down and saying we'd better win next year or it's over. If you want to increase your blood pressure a bit, this is the article to read.
* TeamSpeedKills looks at the last four years of recruiting rankings. The bad news: the Hogs are grouped with Mississippi State in the "trailing" section. The good news: um, we're ahead of Kentucky and Vanderbilt?
* For lots more detail (and some of the finest OCD commenters you'll read anywhere), check out the Recruiting Guy.