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Arkansas Recruiting News & Notes: Connor Noland Announcing Wednesday, Akial Byers to Alabama

Plus a few more notes from around the recruiting world.

Josh Goforth

We’ll find out Wednesday if Connor Noland is a name we’ll need to remember for several years to come. The latest high profile quarterback/pitcher from Greenwood is set to announce his commitment on Wednesday. Noland is a 2018 prospect considered to be very good in both sports. That quarterback/pitcher combo from Greenwood obviously brings up comparisons to Tyler Wilson.

Noland already has offers from UCLA, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Penn State, and more. 247 ranks him the #9 pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class.

The Razorbacks this week are actually hosting what is likely the final official visit for a potential addition to the 2016 class. Juco defensive end Michael Taylor is arriving in town this week. It appears if his transcripts work out, he’d be able to transfer to Arkansas immediately and have three years to play three seasons.

Arkansas is pretty deep along the defensive line, so it would be interesting to see how he’d fit in this season. He’s originally from Orlando and goes to Riverside C.C. in California.

We mentioned Ashdown’s 4-star safety Montaric Brown in the last update. He almost committed somewhere in early July after previously saying he’d announce on his birthday in August. Then he decided not to commit and said he’d wait for a few weeks. Now, he’s saying he’ll take official visits before committing.

High school players can’t take official visits until their senior year begins, so it could be a while until Brown makes a decision - if he sticks to this plan.

Another 2018 name to remember is Nathan Page from Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock. He’ll likely be one of the state’s top prospects next year. He doesn’t have offers yet but he will. SEC Country has a nice feature on him you can check out.

One of the interesting stories from this year’s recruiting class is the situation regarding 4-star Fayetteville defensive tackle Akial Byers.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Byers started getting major offers earlier this year from the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State, and more - but never got one from Arkansas. He committed to Alabama earlier this week.

So the obvious question is why didn’t Arkansas offer him? He’s right across the street!

Obviously, schools can’t publicly comment, but several of Arkansas’ recruiting reporters have said Byers is unlikely to qualify academically, and Bret Bielema doesn’t want to risk dumping an in-state commitment. Byers did give an interview in March in which he expressed frustration with not being offered and indicated he didn’t know what was taking Arkansas so long when he was getting offers from so many other schools, but the recruiting reporters all gave the side that the coaches had been very clear with him about his academic situation.

My take: I don’t blame Byers for being frustrated. It would be hard for me, especially as a teenager, to understand why all these other programs would be willing to offer me but Arkansas wasn’t, regardless of the circumstances. So I’ll say this, we should keep an eye on this story as it goes on. Will he qualify and enroll at Alabama next summer? Will Saban dump him off the commitment list if he wants a sure qualifier in February? If he does get into school, will he be a good player?

It’s not fair to say Bielema and his staff have been ignoring him. They’ve offered pretty much every other top in-state player since Bielema has been here and signed all but a couple. There’s obviously something keeping them from offering, so I think the staff deserves the benefit of the doubt - for now. If Byers qualifies and becomes a great player, it will go down as a huge miss for Bielema. We’ll see if he’s right.