Arkansas’ next coach must makes these areas recruiting priorities


Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook. In this edition, we discuss the ares that should be top recruiting grounds for the next coach.

Arkansas is searching for a coach to replace Bret Bielema as the December signing period creeps ever closer. Once the hire is made, the new coach must immediately begin recruiting to bring together whatever he can ahead of Dec. 20. That’ll continue through the traditional National Signing Day (Feb. 7) when the 2018 class should be mostly completed.

Beyond 2018, Arkansas’ coach needs to decide which recruiting hotbeds to prioritize. With that in mind, SEC Country has broken down several areas the Razorbacks’ new coach needs to successful recruit to build a strong program. Some are areas Bielema’s staff recruited with impressive results. Others are places Bielema’s staff de-emphasized or never found much success recruiting.

Here they are, listed by importance:

Top states


This one is easy. Keeping the top in-state prospects from heading elsewhere is always going to be the top recruiting priority at Arkansas. In most years, Arkansas can take the top five or so players within the state and have a strong local class.

But it is important to remember at a program such as Arkansas that too many in-state signees can be a bad thing. Evaluation is everything. For the most part, Bielema’s staff did a good job deciding who to go after within the state and getting them. The Razorbacks have three of the top four in-state prospects committed for 2018. Arkansas has signed four of the top five in-state recruits in each of the past three classes.


The three biggest metro areas in Texas — Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — are among the top recruiting cities in the country. Arkansas must find a way to become one of the top options for recruits in those areas. That wasn’t exactly the case throughout the Bielema era.

The Hogs signed 14 Texas prospects in Bielema’s five classes. Among those players, only running backs Devwah Whaley (Beaumont) and Rawleigh Williams III (Dallas) really became reliable contributors.

It should be noted Arkansas was beginning to recruit better in Texas just prior to Bielema’s firing. The Razorbacks signed 4-star cornerback Chevin Calloway (Dallas) in 2017, beating out several top competitors. They also had three top Dallas-area recruits committed — Byron Hanspard (4-star CB), Bumper Pool (4-star LB) and Tanner McCalister (3-star CB) — in the 2018 class.

Those are the type of players the new coach needs to pursue in every class. Arkansas has enough of a presence in Dallas to potentially nab a 4-star prospect or two, and at least some highly recruited 3-star recruits, in each class. Building a similar presence in Houston and/or San Antonio could do wonders for the Hogs’ recruiting efforts.


For recruiting purposes, wide receivers coach Michael Smith was arguably Bielema’s best hire during his time at Arkansas. The Hogs signed 12 Louisiana natives in their past four classes, with Smith serving as the primary recruiter for all of them. Most of those players turned into starters, some immediately.

The Boot Hogs are one of the best groups on Arkansas’ current roster. The new staff would be very wise to keep that connection going.

Other hotbeds


It’s tough to go into Oklahoma and recruit against the Sooners and Cowboys these days. But Tulsa is just 110 miles west of Fayetteville and has a stronger Razorbacks presence than most realize.

There are enough top high school programs around Tulsa that the area produces near double digits in Power 5 signees each year. There’s no reason Arkansas can’t be one of the primary options for those players in each class. It doesn’t hurt that former running back Felix Jones, one of the best players in Razorbacks history, is from Tulsa.

Bielema once said he didn’t even know Tulsa was remotely close to the university when he first took the job. The next coach would be wise to know exactly where it is when he hits the recruiting trail.


It never seemed like Bielema’s staffs recruited Memphis nearly as much as they should have. In fact, there’s only one Tennessee native on the current roster — freshman running back Chase Hayden. He’s from Memphis and was immediately one of the best players on the team as soon as he stepped on campus. There’s more talent like Hayden in Memphis if the Hogs are willing to build a pipeline there.

Miss a previous edition? Find every SEC Country daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook right here.

The post Arkansas’ next coach must makes these areas recruiting priorities appeared first on SEC Country.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.