For a while it appeared Arkansas would have an eventful National Signing Day, with several of the official visitors from the last couple of weeks saying they would announce their decisions this Wednesday.
It didn't quite work out that way. Between five prospects committing to Arkansas over the last few days and other recruits publicly eliminating the Razorbacks, we're basically down to just two major recruits to keep an eye on this year, and their situations are oddly similar but on opposite ends of the spectrum. One of the two prospects we're told has a lot of family that wants him to be a Razorback but he seems more on the fence, the other wants to be a Hog but has family staunchly opposed.
It's a quandary for Razorback fans because in one situation we want to be "Let the kid make up his own mind" and in the other, "Listen to family! They have your best interests in mind!" There's some severe compartmentalization going on.
Let's take a look at the two of them, in order of their announcements:
WR Tyrie Cleveland - Houston, Texas
Composite Rating: 4* - 0.9801
Arkansas' Competition: Florida, TCU, Houston
Annoucement Time: 8:00 am Central
The skinny: Cleveland is the one reportedly with family members pushing him to Fayetteville, and it was so strong that a few different recruiting reporters made Crystal Ball predictions to Arkansas following his official visit, but following his official visit to Florida, there was a report from his high school offensive coordinator that Cleveland had eliminated Arkansas. There are disputes to that report, however, but Cleveland himself has not made any sort of announcement.
Cleveland has been committed to Houston for a while, and while he never publicly decommitted, he did remove "Committed to Houston" from his Twitter bio last week shortly following the in-home visit from Bret Bielema and the entire offensive coaching staff. He's originally from Jacksonville and reportedly grew up a Gator fan, but obviously moved to Houston at some point. Recruiting reporters from both TCU and Florida are confident, and the Arkansas reporters' confidence has been shaken a bit it seems, although he still does have three Crystal Ball picks to the Hogs.
If he were to sign with Arkansas, the big story I think would be that the Razorbacks were able to go into Texas and get the state's top-rated receiver and running back. That's no small feat. The class' overall ranking would move up a few spots, and the Hogs' wide receiver class would be considered really solid. The Hogs likely don't need too much help in 2016 with the return of Keon Hatcher, Dominique Reed, Drew Morgan, and Jared Cornelius, but all of those other than Cornelius will graduate after this season. It would be great for young receivers to get some experience in 2016 and be ready to step into more major roles in 2017.
CB Kristian Fulton - Metairie, Louisiana
Composite Rating: 5* - 0.9856
Arkansas' Competition: LSU, Florida
Annoucement Time: 11:45 am Central
The skinny: LSU has been the favorite since day 1 for Fulton. Considered by some to be the top prospect in the most loaded Louisiana class in years, there's obviously great pressure for him to stay home. Metairie is a New Orleans suburb, so he's very close to Baton Rouge. Further, his father is an active poster on LSU message boards and reportedly does business with LSU regularly.
All that being said, Fulton does seem to have some sort of feeling for Arkansas. There was an initial report following his official visit to Fayetteville a couple of weeks ago that his father wasn't even willing to go through an in-home visit with Bret Bielema, but Fulton was apparently able to convince his father to let Bielema come and make his case because the in-home visit did happen last week.
Also, Arkansas has made great headway at Fulton's high school. Henre' Toliver and Dwayne Eugene are both alumni. Current commit Briston Guidry will sign with Arkansas on Wednesday and junior Derrick Munson is Arkansas' first 2017 commit. Add to that the signings of New Orleans-area prospects De'jon Harris and Giovanni LaFrance, and Arkansas' defense could have a strong Louisiana feel to it in coming years.
But if he signs with Arkansas, he'll do so on his own accord. Earlier this week, his father publicly said to a reporter, "I have a lot of respect for Arkansas but I don’t feel it’s a great fit for him." Bret Bielema does have a record of getting a couple of signatures from recruits whose parents wanted them to stay closer to home, so fans will have to hope can pull one out yet again.
Fulton would move Arkansas' class slightly higher up than Cleveland would, but both signature would be worth about the same amount in the composite class rankings. Now if the Hogs pull of a miracle and get both? Then you're looking at a top 20 class that would be the Hogs' best in the recent rankings era. If Arkansas strikes out on both, the class will likely be a fringe top 25 class.