clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How Well Is Bret Bielema Recruiting In-State?

New, 2 comments

How many recruits has he gotten? Has he picked up the right ones?

NCAA Football: Texas State at Arkansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting well in Arkansas is a unique and important part of Razorback sports. The Hogs are the only major team in college or professional sports in the state. And while they don’t produce near the talent states like Louisiana or Georgia produces, there is still a good amount of FBS talent in the Natural State.

The list of great Hogs that come from Arkansas is a long one, especially recently. Both Allen brothers, Darren McFadden, the trio of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs. Arkansas historically has needed those guys, but how well has that gone in the Bret Bielema era? Has he really built a fence around that state?

(I tried as long as I could to hold off on that reference, I really did.)

For this exercise we’re going to take a look at the top-10 recruits in the state. That’s roughly where the FBS bound players end in most years. Then see how well Arkansas has done in those classes. The answer is more clear in the first couple years because they have had most of their careers play out. These next couple is still up for debate.

Class of 2018

Arkansas Top Ten 2018

Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Uncommitted
Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Uncommitted
Connor Noland (4-star) LaDarrius Bishop (3-star, Miss State) Gerry Bohanon (4-star)
Sean Michael Flanagan (3-star) Donavon Foley (3-star, UCA) Nathan Page (3-star)
Luke Jones (3-star) Billy Ferrell (3-star)
Isaiah Nichols (3-star)
Noah Gatlin (3-star)

The Hogs have 5-of-10 and with three yet to commit that number could grow. This is one of those weird years with two extremely talented quarterbacks in the same class. Arkansas already has Noland so missing out on Bohanon won’t be as dire as not getting an in-state 4-star normally would be. Overall this class is in solid shape and could get better. If only two or three FBS players go out of state that will be one of the best years in a while.

Class of 2017

Arkansas Top Ten 2017

Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Montaric Brown (4-star) Akial Byers (4-star, Missouri) De'Shawn Gulledge (3-star) none
Kolian Jackson (3-star) Taylor Powell (4-star, Missouri) Hayden Henry (2-star)
Jarrod Barnes (3-star) BJ Thompson (3-star, Baylor) Ty Clary (2-star)
Kirby Adcock (3-star) Tre Northwood (3-star, Oklahoma)
David Porter (3-star Josh Johnson (3-star, Iowa State)

This incoming class was 50/50 coming and going in just about every aspect. Arkansas getting Brown over Alabama was huge. On the other side staying away from Byers might come back to hurt them. Still too soon to tell how well this class ended up.

Class of 2016

Arkansas Top Ten 2016

Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
McTelvin Agim (5-star) Damarea Crockett (3-star, Missouri) Dylan Hays (3-star) Dylan Soehner (3-star, Iowa State)
Austin Capps (4-star) John Tate (3-star, Memphis) Grant Morgan (3-star) Markell Utsey (3-star, Missouri)
TJ Hammonds (4-star) Kiondre Thomas (3-star, Minnesota) Tyler Hall (3-star) Kenyon Jackson (3-star, Illinois)
Jordan Jones (3-star) Nick McCann (3-star, Texas Tech) Tobias Enlow (3-star)
Elias Hale (3-star) Cameron Murray (3-star, Oklahoma St)

This year things are interesting. Do you care more for quality or quantity? Arkansas split again, but got the prizes of the state in Agim, Capps and Hammonds. All three are looking likely to have productive careers. The clear miss was Crockett, and he’s going to have a big time career for Mizzou. Outside of that? Not a lot. The other four in the Top-10 redshirted. So they could pan out, but Arkansas got most of the guys they needed.

Class of 2015

Arkansas Top 12 2015

Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Cheyenne O'Grady (4-star) KJ Hill (4-star, Ohio St) Tyler Phillips (3-star) Ean Pfeifer (3-star, Vanderbilt)
Will Gragg (4-star) Ross Trail (3-star, Cincinnati) Luc Bequette (3-star, California)
Jamario Bell (4-star) Justin Bailey (3-star, Arkansas Tech) Will Hastings (2-star, Auburn)
Ty Storey (4-star)
Colton Jackson (3-star)
LaMichael Pettway (3-star)
Daytreon Dean (3-star)
Deon Stewart (3-star)
Dre Greenlaw (3-star)

Okay I cheated on this one and put top-12. Only because numbers 11 and 12 this year were Stewart and Greenlaw. There was a lot of angst over missing out on KJ Hill, and he looks like he will have a good career with the Buckeyes. Would he have helped the Hogs? Probably, but Bielema got a whole lot of good players in this class from close to home. The oddball of this class was Pfeifer, who slipped through the cracks to Vanderbilt and made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2016 after redshirting in 2015.

Class of 2014

Arkansas Top Ten 2014

Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Bijhon Jackson (4-star) Josh Fraizer (4-star, Alabama) none Austin McGeHee (3-star, Purdue)
Juan Day (3-star) Jarvis Cooper (3-star, Memphis)
Jack Kraus (3-star) Zack Wary (3-star, Wake Forest)
Jake Hall (3-star) Jabe Burgess (3-star, Tulsa)
Josh Liddell (3-star) Deandre Murray (3-star, Tulsa)

This was definitely the weakest in state class during the Bielema era. So far Jackson and Liddell are the only two really making an impact for the Hogs. Frazier is the only player who went elsewhere still playing in FBS. This class has four transfers to FCS schools and a medical retirement. 2014 really was a wash.

Class of 2013

Arkansas Top Ten 2013

Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Committed to Arkansas Committed Elsewhere Outside Top 10, Currently at Arkansas Outside Top 10, Committed to P5 School
Hunter Henry (4-star) Altee Tenpenny (4-star, Alabama) Drew Morgan (2-star) none
Austin Allen (4-star) Jamar Criswell (3-star, Uncommitted)
Brooks Ellis (3-star) CJ Gooden (3-star, Tulsa)
Alex Brignoni (3-star) Sockton Mallett (3-star, UCA)
Tevin Beanum (3-star)
Korliss Marshall (3-star)

The first class of Arkansas athletes during the Bielema era ended up being very Pro-Razorback. Henry, Allen and Ellis were all difference makers and they got a hit on 2-star Drew Morgan. Tenpenny was a much publicized loss in Arkansas but his tragic car accident came after a short career at Alabama.

How Successful Have the Hogs Been?

Most years, Arkansas has brought in about half of the FBS talent from Arkansas. That’s not enough if you want to say more needs to be done. On the other hand, Bielema has mostly hit on the guys he needs to. 17 recruits have been a 4-star or higher, and Arkansas has landed 12 of those. So you have ammunition for both sides of the argument.

There have been four players Arkansas missed out on they could really have used in Crockett, Hill, Frazier, and Pfeifer. But everyone misses some on recruiting, and Bielema has offset that by winning even more in state players like Agim, Allen, Brown, and Jackson. Arkansas has also done a good job finding players in places they rarely have like South Florida for example.

Arkansas does need to improve on their returns in Texas and Louisiana though. This class of 2018 is doing a better job of getting players from the Lone Star State, but when was the last time Arkansas got an offensive line man from Texas? Zach Rogers in 2015. Go look at the number of offensive linemen that state produces, Arkansas should have more than one on their current roster.

However, for what can reasonably be expected at Arkansas, Bielema has done a solid job keeping big time Arkansas recruits in state. Arkansas isn’t going to be bringing in every player from the state. Recruiting is just too national now for that. What is important is keeping the best guys and making the best of them, which has been a success.