Schools like Florida, Texas A&M, LSU, and Alabama have a luxury that Arkansas does not. Those schools have a large number of talented recruits each year who reside inside of their particular state. States like Florida have over 100 players each year who can play big time Power 5 conference football, while Arkansas usually has around 6-7 each year.
In his opening press conference Bielema said, like every Razorback coach before him, that he wanted to build a fence around the state of Arkansas, that if any high school player in Arkansas could play SEC-caliber football he needed to come to Fayetteville. And when rumors about Michael Dyer trying to transfer to Arkansas started to come out, Bielema said that if a player wanted to leave the state of Arkansas, he needed to know that he wasn't going to be welcomed back.
Every coach as far as anyone can remember has said similar things about instate recruiting. The only problem was that they haven't been particularly great at it, until now.
Since 2000 (We'll start there since that's as far back as online recruiting services go) Arkansas has lost at least 26 players from inside the state of Arkansas in which they had offered a scholarship. To put that into perspective, that's an entire recruiting class worth of players. In that same time they have kept the #1 ranked player in the state just 7 times.
Here's a quick rundown of the players Arkansas let slip away. To be fair, while these players had scholarship offers, some of them were not heavily recruited by the Razorbacks, but the Hogs did go hard for many of them.
Harold James- 4* Safety, Alabama.
Cedric Houston- 5* Running Back, Tennessee.
De'Angelo Williams- 4* Running Back, Memphis.
Bret Smith- 4* Wide Receiver, Tennessee.
Roshaun Fellows- 3* Linebacker, Tennessee
Brett Helms- 3* Offensive Guard, LSU.
Matt Stoltz- 4* Linebacker, LSU.
Slick Shelley- 4* Wide Receiver, Tennessee.
Ricardo Kemp- 3* Athlete, Tennessee.
Bartley Webb- 3* Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame.
Lee Zimba- 4* Offensive Tackle, Auburn.
Kodi Burns- 4* Quarterback, Auburn.
Broderick Green- 4* Running back, USC (later transferred back to Arkansas)
Zack Pianalto- 3* Tight End, North Carolina.
Cam Baker- 3* Wide Receiver, Memphis.
Jack Byrne- 3* Tight End, Wisconsin. (Bret out-recruiting Petrino for this one way back in the day)
Derek Johnson- 4* Defensive Tackle, Texas.
Jesse Grandy- 3* Athlete, Ole Miss.
Michael Dyer- 5* Running Back, Auburn.
Dakota Mosley- 3* Tight End, Auburn.
Brishen Matthews- 3* Safety, Ole Miss.
Parker Mack- 3* Offensive Guard, Princeton.
Keihl Frazier- 4* Quarterback, Auburn.
Zac Brooks- 4* Athlete, Clemson.
Altee Tenpenny- 4* Running Back, Alabama.
Josh Frazier- 4* Defensive Tackle, Alabama.
For the 2015 class, Arkansas got commitments from every instate player they offered 3 months before signing day.
Arkansas' biggest in-state class is without a doubt the 2008 class. That class - with 15 signees from Arkansas - was filled with talented players that paved the way for Arkansas' success in 2010 and 2011. Sure, Arkansas has had 10 or more players sign from the state before before, but the 2015 class is different. The 2015 class is deep, deep in talent. All but one of the commitments has at least one other offer to go play at another SEC school.
In terms of player rankings, per 247Sports, Arkansas' lowest instate commit is rated an 86. That's a high 3 star. Depending on which recruiting service you look at, 7 of the 10 players are 4* recruits on different services.
That's not just abnormal for Arkansas, that's unprecedented. That far out numbers any class from the past.
Given what history has showed us, if you can keep the talented players from the state, it will translate to wins. McFadden in the 2005 class, and Wilson, Wright, Adams, and the rest of the 2008 class are all evidence of this. Only time will tell if this remains true, but you have to like the direction it's headed. We haven't seen what the Razorbacks can do when they keep everyone inside the borders of Arkansas.
Give Bret Bielema credit where it is due. It took him 2 full recruiting classes at Arkansas to accomplish something no other coach in recent memory has been able to. Coming off of a year where they went 3-9 no less.
Arkansas has been making waves outside of Arkansas as well. Stealing Hjalte Froholdt from Denmark/Ohio/Florida and flipping a Rawleigh Williams from Ole Miss are big gets for Bielema and his staff. On paper, this is one of Arkansas' more talented classes ranking wise, and we are still a long way away from signing day.
With 17 commitments, Arkansas' recruiting class is ranked 18th in the nation per 247Sports. They have 8 scholarships left in 2015 class.
*All 2015 commitments are non-binding until a player has signed, and sent a letter of intent to a school*