Razorback Football head coach, Sam Pittman has always recruited well. Everywhere he has been he has developed talent better than any offensive line coach in all of football. Looking at his recent lines at Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee, Pittman has shown that he has the “it” factor especially when it comes to coaching and recruiting the offensive line.
Now, as the head hog at Arkansas he’s upped his recruiting up a notch by stringing together three recruiting classes in a row with talent up and down the roster. His top ranked players in the 2020 and 2021 classes have played significantly early on in their careers. Slusher from ‘20 saw his playing time increase when Jalen Catalon went down with an injury. His absence gave Slusher the opportunity to prove himself as he did. Now, with Catalon returning for one more season it’s imperative that Pittman find a way to have them both on the field and he surely knows that.
How about Pittman as an evaluator of talent though? Dominique Johnson was a member of the 2020 class as a running back out of Texas. Johnson was committed to Missouri up until signing day before he flipped to Arkansas. The bull runner wanted a chance to play running back in college but didn’t believe he would receive the opportunity once Eli Drinkwitz took over as head coach of the Tigers.
Former Missouri head coach and new defensive coordinator, Barry Odom, moved down to the road to Fayetteville and Johnson moved with him. As a redshirt freshman, Johnson has an opportunity to rush for over 500 yards on the season as he his two yards away. He could also finish the season leading the Razorbacks in rushing touchdowns.
When it comes to transfers and recruiting class as a whole the 2021 class could be looked back to as one that helped put Arkansas back on the map in college football. AJ Green, Rocket Sanders, Bryce Stephens, Jayden Johnson and Cam Little were just a few of the true freshmen that helped Arkansas to its 8-4 season.
The Razorbacks also had one of the best transfer portal classes of 2021. Tre Williams was a Missouri Tiger and Houston Cougar before ending up a Razorback. His ability to get to the opposing quarterback gave Arkansas an edge threat that they have been without since Deatrich Wise in 2016.
Former Florida State receiver, Warren Thompson, gave Arkansas a second receiver who stepped up at times to take the focus off of Treylon Burks. Thompson finished the regular season with 292 yards and two touchdowns which was good for second on the team.
“Big” John Ridgeway gave Arkansas a key cog that could stuff the middle of the defense and stop running games. Ridgeway could move horizontally better than many big man on the line. He finished the regular season with 39 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks. The Hogs had to beat a lot of teams for the baller from Illinois State including Texas, USC, Penn State and Iowa.
With the 2022 class and transfers now signed, will there be any signees that could possibly make an impact?
Look no further than Landon Jackson. The 6’7 275 pound defensive end received the opportunity to come home and play for the Razorbacks. With Williams leaving at the end of the season they needed another edge rusher and that’s what they’re getting in Jackson. With the new transfer rule granting immediate eligibility for first time transfers it allows players and teams to pick up instant impact players similar to free agency in professional sports.
Jadon Haselwood was the number one wide receiver coming out of high school on 2019. He comes to Arkansas from Oklahoma and will provide the Razorbacks with a difference maker to hopefully replace Treylon Burks with.
The Razorbacks need a new left tackle for 2022 as they lose starter Myron Cunningham. Who will replace him? There are two big boys that just signed out of the Little Rock metro area in Andrew Chamblee (6’6 285) and E’Marrion Harris (6’7 370). Could they be options to replace Cunningham as true freshmen? Or do they look at the current backup Jalen St. John? There will definitely be a competition to watch throughout spring and fall practice.
Arkansas brings in a trio of wide receivers in Isaiah Sategna, Quincey McAdoo and Samuel Mbake. They were all rated four-stars coming out of high school, are freaky fast and have soft hands. If they can develop quickly, these three could see early playing time in 2022.
There’s also another trio of signees at linebacker that could see early playing time. With the potential loss of Bumper Pool along with Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry, the Hogs will need help at the linebacker position. Jordan Crook, Mani Powell and Kaden Henley could all press for playing time right away as all three are ultra-talented.
Pittman has shown constant improvement in his short time as Razorback coach. To take a 2-10 team and make them a competitive 3-7 team turned eyes quickly. Then, turning a competitive team into a winning team in year two bodes well for recruiting in the future. More studs will keep their eyes on the program and take Pittman and his staff seriously. Obviously, the 2023 class is off to an exceptional start. How will they finish?