Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook . In this edition, we discuss blueshirts, a new locker room and the 2018 in-state commits.
Arkansas has strong evidence to sell blueshirt opportunity
Arkansas offensive lineman Ty Clary had immediate scholarship opportunities out of high school, including from Air Force, Arkansas State, Cincinnati and Kansas. Instead, the Fayetteville product and 2-star recruit per to the 247Sports composite, decided to have his scholarship delayed for a chance at staying in his hometown and joining the Razorbacks.
Arkansas’ coaching staff offered him what is known as a blueshirt opportunity, which he accepted. He joined the program essentially as a walk-on this summer with a scholarship promised following the 2017 fall semester. Hayden Henry, an outside linebacker from Little Rock, did the same in the 2017 class. It’s a tool programs are using more frequently to bring in players they want, but don’t have enough room to put on immediate scholarship.
At times, recruits will view the blueshirt offer as a slight and prefer to go somewhere they’ll be receiving full financial benefits right away. Luckily for the Hogs, Clary was not one of those players and he’s proven to be a significant asset early in his career.
He was a surprise starter at right guard in the Hogs’ season-opening win against Florida A&M last Thursday. He played well, too, receiving a grade of 91 percent. He’s seemingly cemented his role as a starter going forward.
Clary proving he’s capable of stepping into a starting role is good for the current team, sure. But it also has advantages on the recruiting trail. The next time the Hogs can’t afford to give an immediate scholarship to an in-state recruit they like, Clary’s success now makes a blueshirt a much easier sell. To a lesser extent, Henry is also already a blueshirt success story. He’s a backup on the depth chart and will play regularly on special teams this season.
Arkansas may not even use the blueshirt in every class, but it’s still important. And now, the Hogs have the perfect sales pitch when attempting to use it.
Bret Bielema: New locker room will be huge in recruiting
A new game day locker room is in the works for Arkansas. It’s being built as part of the ongoing renovations in the north end of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
For this season, the Hogs will be displaced as a result. They’ll dress in what has been the visitors locker room and take the field through the southwest corner of the stadium. When the project is completed in time for the 2018 season, Arkansas will not only have a top-notch facility to suit up, but one they can use in recruiting.
“The renderings of that are off the charts,” Bielema recently said. “We’ll be able to use that huge in recruiting.”
Arkansas’ everyday locker room for practices will remain in the Fred W. Smith Football Center just south of the stadium.
QB commit Connor Noland excited about 2018 in-state group
Five of Arkansas’ 12 commits in the 2018 class are from the Natural State. Signing such a high percentage of in-state prospects is welcomed by quarterback commit Connor Noland.
A 4-star star prospect from Greenwood, Ark., Noland has built at least some level of a relationship with the four other in-state commits — Sean Michael Flanagan (Charleston), Noah Gatlin (Jonesboro), Luke Jones (Little Rock) and Isaiah Nichols (Springdale).
“It’s awesome just to know the other top guys from Arkansas grew up here and want to play for the Razorbacks,” Noland said. “They’re living the same dream I’m living. They want to get up there and win a national championship. That’s what we’re all looking for.”
All five are firm in their pledge and plan to take their official visits to Arkansas together in early December. They’re expected to officially sign a couple weeks later.
The Hogs could potentially add a sixth in-state commit if all goes well with 4-star quarterback Gerry Bohanon Jr. (Earle) between now and signing day. Bohanon is the No. 1 overall recruit from the state in the class.
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