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Hogs land talented 4-star RB

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Arkansas at Mississippi State Photo by Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Benton (Ark.) High School’s Braylen Russell became the first 2024 prospect to commit to the Razorbacks. He then decommitted but now has pledged his commitment to the Razorbacks on Friday evening at the Benton Event Center.

Russell is a four-star and 307th overall prospect in the 2024 class. He displays impressive athleticism and exceptional top-end speed to breakaway from defenders. At 6’1, 230 pounds, Russell delivers punishing blows when running down hill.

He was one of the best running backs in the state of the Arkansas during the 2022 season rushing for 1,643 yards and 26 TDs. The Benton product showed he can get it done out of the backfield by catching 22 passes for 224 yards and 1 TD.

Since de-committing in October, Russell took in several other trips around the country. Those include a pair of trips to Arkansas and Tennessee. Plus, one each to Baylor and South Carolina. His top three of Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina was announced on July 6, eight days prior to his commitment date. Russell ended up with 17 offers but chose the Razorbacks over the Volunteers and Gamecocks.

Russell is now the 15th addition for Arkansas’ class of 2024. It’s anticipated that they will bring in at the very least 20 freshman in this cycle.

Running back Jimmy Smith has been spectacular during his time as an assistant at Arkansas. Since his hiring in December 2019, Smith has brought in four players rated four stars or higher. AJ Green is the highest rated recruit followed by Russell, Isaiah Augustave (2023) and Rashod Dubinion (2022).

Current Scholarship Running Backs

Raheim “Rocket” Sanders

AJ Green

Rashod Dubinion

Dominique Johnson

Isaiah Agustave

247Sports Scouting Report

Big-bodied back with better-than-expected open-field athleticism and impressive short-range acceleration. Boasts a three-sport athletic profile with uncommon combination of reps in throws events (shot put as a junior) and sprints (100 meters as a sophomore), plus basketball.

Production made a significant increase from sophomore to junior year, in both totals and per carry rate. Consistently displays ability to catch the ball out of the backfield with almost 50 receptions across 2021-22 seasons. Downhill burst combines with large frame to make for a difficult second-level tackling assignment. Vision and sneaky first-move elusiveness catch defenders off guard. Encouragingly shows ability to get skinny in the hole considering big-bodied build.

Flashes some subtle quick-footedness in tight quarters that keeps plays alive and gains unexpected extra yardage. Can still get faster at the top end, but showed improved open-field linear speed in 2022. Gears down noticeably when redirecting, but helps compensate with promising burst out of those moves. Should provide a forceful short-yardage option at the next level given size and athleticism.

Upright running style and huge frame combine to create a large target for defenders. Occasionally relies on athleticism rather than run-finishing size / strength. Can improve lower-half fluidity. Lacks full catalog of verified data to provide ideal context to athleticism. Does immense size limit long-term upside?

Projects as a quality Power Five running back prospect who could at least provide a punishing change-of-pace option, but also might become a high-volume workhorse. Scheme and fit will influence college role and impact, but the size and functional athleticism make for a four-star back with the potential to play beyond college.

-Gabe Brooks

Arkansas Football 2024 Commits

DE Charlie Collins

WR Courtney Crutchfield

WR Ashton Bethel-Roman

DL Kavion Henderson

RB Braylen Russell

DB Noreel White

LB Julius Pope

QB KJ Jackson

RB Jadan Baugh

DB Jaden Allen

OL Zuri Madison

WR CJ Brown

DB Ahkhari Johnson

OL Kobe Branham

DB Tevis Metcalf