Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook . In this edition, we take a look at Arkansas’ coaching candidates as recruiters.
Arkansas’ coaching search is in full swing with the Razorbacks expected to make a hire within a week.
Several names have circulated as potential candidates with records, championships, accomplishments, and style of play serving as key talking points. But how have the Hogs’ candidates performed as recruiters?
SEC Country has taken a look at that. Here’s the breakdown on how five of Arkansas’ top coaching candidates have fared as recruiters:
Gus Malzahn, Auburn coach
Gus Malzahn has been a recruiting machine at Auburn. Each of his five classes with the Tigers have finished ranked in the top 10 nationally.
His five highest-rated recruits at Auburn are among the 10 most highly touted signees the Tigers have had in the recruiting ratings era.
As an offensive coordinator at Auburn, Malzahn’s offense helped lure Cam Newton to sign with the Tigers. That, obviously, worked out very well.
Malzahn’s five highest-rated signees at Auburn:
- Byron Cowart, 5-star DE, 2015
- Derrick Brown, 5-star DT, 2016
- Montravius Adams, 5-star DT, 2013
- Roc Thomas, 5-star RB, 2014
- Calvin Ashley, 5-star OT, 2017
Mike Norvell, Memphis coach
Mike Norvell has Memphis recruiting at a high level by American Athletic Conference standards. The Tigers’ 2017 class ranked No. 2 in the AAC.
All five of Norvell’s highest-rated signees at Memphis are among the top 15 recruits the program has signed in the recruiting ratings era. That’s impressive for only two classes.
While offensive coordinator at Arizona State, he played the role of primary recruiter for three 4-star quarterback signees in three years.
Five highest-rated signees at Memphis:
- Obinna Eze, 4-star OT, 2017
- Carlito Gonzalez, 3-star DB, 2017
- Riley Ferguson, 3-star QB, 2016
- Nick Robinson, 3-star WR, 2017
- T.J. Carter, 3-star CB, 2017
Chad Morris, SMU coach
If you want recruiting connections in Texas — and Arkansas does — there is no one better than Chad Morris. His connections stem from 16 years as a prominent high school coach in the state. Morris’ first two classes at SMU consisted of nothing but Lone Star State signees.
Morris has also proved he can recruit elsewhere. While offensive coordinator at Clemson (2011-14), he played the role of primary recruiter when the Tigers signed highly touted quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Chad Kelly.
Five highest-rated signees at SMU:
- James Proche, 3-star WR, 2015
- D.J. Gillins, 3-star QB, 2017
- Alan Ali, 3-star OT, 2017
- Jordan Carmouche, 3-star OLB, 2016
- Ben Hicks, 3-star QB, 2015
Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator
Few coordinators in the country have a better recruiting track record than Brent Venables. In 19 seasons as a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma (1999 to 2011) and Clemson (2012-present) he’s been the primary recruiter for two 5-star and 26 4-star prospects. That’s rare for any coordinator, as they typically do less recruiting legwork than the head coach and positional assistants.
As expected, Venables’ forte in recruiting has been on the defensive side of the ball. His connections are spread throughout the country. At Oklahoma, he was highly successful recruiting in Texas. Most of his big recruiting wins at Clemson have come in Georgia.
Five highest-rated signees at Clemson:
- Christian Wilkins, 5-star DT, 2015
- Trayvon Mullen, 4-star CB, 2016
- Shaq Smith, 4-star LB, 2016
- Dorian O’Daniel, 4-star LB, 2013
- Xavier Kelly, 4-star DE, 2016
Mike Leach, Washington State coach
Mike Leach has never been known as one of the top recruiters in college football. The thing is, he doesn’t have to be. He’s taken what he’s been given and almost always turned it into a winner.
None of his six recruiting classes at Washington State have finished higher than No. 8 in the Pac-12. Despite that, his teams have won at least six of their nine conference games each of the last three seasons.
Leach also has the all-important Texas connections from his days at Texas Tech (2000-09). He’s probably the most likely candidate to be unbothered by Arkansas’ recruiting territory, which isn’t great by SEC standards. If he can build winning programs in Lubbock and Pullman, surely he could do so in Fayetteville.
Five highest-rated signees at Washington State:
- Thomas Toki, 4-star DT, 2015
- Tyler Bruggman, 4-star QB, 2013
- Jamire Calvin, 4-star WR, 2017
- Shalom Luani, 3-star DB, 2015
- Chandler Leniu, 3-star LB, 2015
Miss a previous edition? Find every SEC Country daily Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting notebook right here.
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