Arkansas recruiting mailbag: Will Emmit Gooden stick with the Hogs?

Arkansas-recruiting-Emmit Gooden

Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas recruiting mailbag with reporter Trent Shadid. In this edition, we discuss the status of a current commit, the top in-state recruit and more.


I’ll start with defensive tackle commit Emmit Gooden. I understand why people continue to question if he’s firm with Arkansas. He’s often entertaining fans from other schools on social media. But I think it’s just that … entertainment. Not a sign he’s looking to head elsewhere.

Gooden has developed a close relationship with Bret Bielema and defensive line coach John Scott Jr. Those two have made sure to stay in regular contact with him, helping show him he’s a top priority they don’t want to lose. Understandably so considering the 247Sports composite rates him as the No. 7 overall junior college prospect in the 2018 class.

The top reason I see Gooden sticking with Arkansas is Hogs sophomore defensive end McTelvin “Sosa” Agim. They’ve been friends going back to high school, when both were highly recruited prospects in the 2016 class. They’re very excited about the possibility of playing together in 2018.

I’ll never say never in recruiting. But having met Gooden and knowing his personality, it’s hard for me to imagine him backing out on Arkansas at this point. If he does go elsewhere, I’d bet on Oklahoma as the choice.

As for your second question: Yes and no.

Outside linebacker Hayden Henry will be placed on scholarship for the 2018 spring semester. Technically a walk-on, the freshman is already being accounted for as a signee in the 2018 class. That was part of his agreement when deciding to join the team as a blueshirt. The same goes for starting right guard Ty Clary.

As for inside linebacker Grant Morgan, a preferred walk-on in the 2016 class, placing him on scholarship is more complicated. Because he was recruited by Arkansas, he could not have been given a scholarship at any point over the past year. Per NCAA rules, schools are not supposed to make promises of scholarships to recruited walk-ons and must wait at least a year before awarding such players scholarships. (The staff had to get creative to not “recruit” Henry and Clary.)

The staff feels Morgan is deserving of a scholarship soon as a top backup and key special teams player this season. However, the scholarship numbers are tight. The Hogs are at the 85-player limit and only lose 13 scholarship players after this season. They already have 12 commitments in the 2018 class and are expected to add another three or four. So, even with offseason transfers, it’s difficult to envision Arkansas being able to make room for Morgan to be placed on scholarship in the near future.

For about the past month, I’ve been under the impression 4-star quarterback Gerry Bohanon Jr., from Earle (Ark.), was leaning toward committing to Baylor. I don’t feel as confident at this point. I think his recruitment remains up in the air with Arkansas, Baylor, Louisville and Ole Miss the top possibilities. LSU may also be an option if the Tigers decide they want a quarterback.

Arkansas-recruiting-Gerry-Bohanon
Quarterback Gerry Bohanon Jr. could be selecting from five schools. Jeff Sentell/SEC Country.

I’m not leaning away from Baylor because they lost to FCS program Liberty last Saturday. (It certainly doesn’t help, though.) I haven’t asked him about it, but Bohanon doesn’t strike me as the type of kid to discount a school because of one loss. However, he’s also intelligent enough to keep a close eye on things going forward. I’d expect how the Bears recover will be as important to him as the fact they’re in this position in the first place.

Arkansas is the main reason I’m starting to think differently about where he may go. The Hogs are going to make a strong push to get him over the next few months. (Bret Bielema and Barry Lunney Jr. made a trip to West Helena, Ark., last Friday to watch him play in his season opener.) Not that they hadn’t been recruiting him hard previously, I just think they were somewhat content for a while to have 4-star quarterback Connor Noland be the only signee at the position in this class. Now that things have settled a bit more with the class, Arkansas has room for an additional quarterback and sees an opportunity to get Bohanon.

If the Hogs continue to stay after him aggressively, it’ll be difficult for any school to beat them out for the top recruit in the state.

The recruitment of 4-star tight end Luke Ford isn’t going to end any time in the near future. I’m not expecting a decision will be made until December at the earliest. It’s possible he waits until the traditional National Signing Day in early February.

Arkansas-recruiting-Luke-Ford
Tight end Luke Ford will probably not decide on a school until at least December. Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country.

As for Arkansas’ chances, they are one of several schools in the mix. Alabama is the favorite with Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and Texas among his many other top choices. Last I heard, he was planning to announce his official list of top schools in the near future. That may provide clarity as to what he’s thinking.

The key for Arkansas is getting him to take one of his official visits to Fayetteville. Obviously, the competition to land one of his five official trips is stout. If the Hogs can’t do that, they probably don’t have a chance.


To submit a question for recruiting mailbags, email Shadid13@gmail.com or send a message to @Shadid13 on Twitter.

The post Arkansas recruiting mailbag: Will Emmit Gooden stick with the Hogs? appeared first on SEC Country.

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