As Chad Morris looks to continue his turnaround of the program, success on the recruiting trail is paramount. Fortunately, the last 30 days have been kind to Arkansas.
Looking to improve on the worst season in program history, Chad Morris and his staff have been hard at work recruiting players that fit their system.
The Razorbacks’ 2020 class currently has 11 verbal commits. Per 247Sports, the class ranks No. 36 nationally and No. 12 in the SEC.
Among these 11 commits, four have occurred since June 14. Let’s get you up to speed on the newest members and how they fit into the picture in Fayetteville.
4-star QB Chandler Morris
Chad’s son, Chandler Morris plays for the powerhouse Highland Park High School (University Park, TX). Using both his arm and his legs, Morris helped lead the Scots to their third consecutive Texas Class 5A Division 1 state title.
At 5-foot-10, 172 pounds, he still has room to grow but has a solid foundation for the position. Flashing a 4.73 forty at The Opening Regional in March, you can see why the dual threat QB is a good fit for his father’s smashmouth spread system.
The No. 50 player in the state of Texas and the No. 10 dual threat QB in the class, Morris pledged to Arkansas on June 14. While the Razorbacks had the upper hand for obvious reasons, he also held offers from Auburn, Clemson and Oklahoma.
Arkansas has revamped their QB room this offseason, but Morris has all the making of someone that will come in and compete when 2020 rolls around.
3-star DE Blayne Toll
The No. 1 player in the state of Arkansas, the Razorbacks were able to keep Toll away from Oklahoma.
Starring for Hazen High School - about three-and-a-half hours southeast of Fayetteville - Toll knows how to use his hands and speed to get to the quarterback.
The 2018 Razorbacks allowed 34.8 PPG, 108th in the nation. As DC John Chavis attempts to overhaul this unit, players like Toll that can wreak havoc in the backfield will go a long way.
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 244 pounds, he has college-ready size. Co-secondary coach Mark Smith and tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. were primarily responsible for recruiting Toll.
As Arkansas looks to return to prominence in the SEC, being able to secure the top players in your own backyard will be key. Toll is an excellent example of that.
3-star ATH Kelvontay Dixon
“Athlete” is a fitting description for the 3-star out of Carthage, TX. Capable of lining up all over the field, Dixon will provide the Arkansas offense with an exciting weapon. His game profiles similarly to Percy Harvin’s at Florida and Curtis Samuel’s at Ohio State.
Dixon is the half-brother of Texas Longhorns sophomore RB Keaontay Ingram, a 4-star in the 2018 class. Of the 11 current Arkansas football commits in next year’s cycle, eight hail from the Lone Star State.
Morris and OC Joe Craddock’s attack is all about getting their playmakers in space. Possessing 10.81 100-meter speed, Dixon certainly fits the bill.
Taking his official visit to campus on April 6, Dixon announced his commitment on Independence Day. He was primarily recruited by associate head coach/running backs coach Jeff Traylor.
3-star RB John Gentry
In addition to Morris, Arkansas also secured Gentry’s commitment on June 14.
A fellow Texan, Gentry is the No. 82 player in the state and the No. 41 RB in the cycle.
“It was a visit to remember,” Gentry told 247Sports of his trip to Fayetteville on June 12. “I sat down one-on-one with all the coaches and they were telling me how I’m needed, and I could be a big part of the turnaround.”
Junior RB Rakeem Boyd, who played his high school football less than 30 miles from Gentry, was instrumental in the recruiting process.
“Rakeem was an amazing host. He showed me a lot, we talked about a lot, he sealed the deal for me too.”
Competing mostly against Group of Five teams, this is another recruit that Traylor led the charge on. Houston, Utah State, UNLV and Wyoming were also in on the running back.
All four of these commits rank among the top-six in Arkansas’ 2020 cycle. While it is a solid start, there is still plenty of work to be done. In particular, the trenches need to be addressed.
The Razorbacks have just one offensive lineman and two defensive linemen currently verbally committed. Fortunately, some help looks like it is on the way.
4-star Athens, TX offensive tackle Garrett Hayes is considered an Arkansas lean. The No. 13 OT in the class, Hayes took his official visit to Fayetteville on May 3. The 6-foot-5, 292-pound tackle has as high of a ceiling as any offensive line prospect in the class. He shouldn’t have to bulk up too much more at the collegiate level and has shown excellent balance and agility.
Another name to keep an eye on is 4-star Memphis, TN guard Chris Morris. He would be quite the snag for this staff as he is the No. 2 G in the class. Being recruited by offensive line coach/run game coordinator Dustin Fry, the Razorbacks will have to fend off a slew of SEC competitors to secure his commitment. Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M are all in the running for Morris.
As of now, Morris is ineligible for his senior season in 2019. Transferring from Freedom Prep to Memphis Central, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) ruled that Morris did not meet their change of address requirements. He is seeking a hardship waiver, so this is a situation worth monitoring.
There is one more Memphis native to watch. Omari Thomas, a 4-star OT from Briarcrest Christian, is set to announce his commitment on January 4 at the Army All-American Game. He recently released his top-six schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Arkansas has long recruited the Memphis area well and that could pay off in this case. “What’s funny is that I kind of consider Arkansas an in-state school because they have so many Memphis people there,” Thomas said. “What sold me on them is just building a program and seeing how I’d fit with their program and knowing people.”
The 2020 class is beginning to shape up nicely. It is not unreasonable to think this class could crack the top-30 nationally and the top-10 in the SEC.
It’s up to the staff to build off this recent success.
For the latest on Arkansas recruiting, follow Teddy Rydquist on Twitter @TeddyRydquist.