Arkansas Football: Will the Razorbacks Reel in an Elite 2013 Recruiting Class?
The Arkansas football program has been reeling since former head coach Bobby Petrino had his inappropritate relationship with a subordinate made public and was fired.
When John L. Smith was hired on a 10-month contract to to replace him, many of the players were excited because of their familiarity with the coach who had left only a few months earlier to be the head coach at Weber State.
With the team still intact from last year's Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State, the Razorbacks enter the 2012 season as a team that can make some noise in the SEC West.
But this isn't about the 2012 season.
With it still not known whether Smith will be the head coach for 2013, one has to wonder if the Razorbacks can reel in a good recruiting class. Even if they don't, there won't be much change from their recruiting the last few years. They were ranked No. 34 last year (with Petrino still the head coach), No. 24 in 2011 and No. 49 in 2010, according to rivals.com.
In fact, you have to go back to 2009 to find Arkansas ranked inside the top 20 in recruiting.
So, what are the odds Arkansas reels in an elite 2013 recruiting class?
Note: All recruiting rankings are courtesy of rivals.com.
The Class Thus Far
As it stands right now, the Razorbacks have the 49th-best recruiting class in the nation.
The highlight is four-star tight end Hunter Henry out of Pulaski Academy (Ark.), who is ranked the fourth- best tight end in the country.
Other players committed to the Razorbacks are:
- ATH Dominique Alexander, Booker T. Washington (Okla.)
- QB Austin Allen, Fayetteville (Ark.) three-star
- RB Kaleb Blanchard, Denham Springs (La.) three-star
- DB Alex Brignoni, Fayetteville (Ark.) three-star
- QB Tyler Cogswell, American Heritage (Fla.) three-star
- LB Brooks Ellis, Fayetteville (Ark.) three-star
- DB Khari Harding, Sante Fe (Okla.) three-star
- WR Jervenski Johnson, Amite (La.)
- TE Deondre Skinner, Patterson (La.) three-star
- LB Myke Tavarres, College of the Siskiyous (Calif.) three-star
- DB Carroll Washington, Hartnell CC (Calif.) three-star
The Razorbacks are still in on many prospects, although some only list them as a low-interest school, while others are listed with high and medium interest.
Of the top 150 players, only four-star offensive tackle Kenny Lacy out of Mountain Pointe (Ariz.) has the Razorbacks listed as high interest. Lacy has also listed Arizona, Arizona State, California, Nebraska, Oklahoma and UCLA in his top seven.
Top 150 players that have medium interest in Arkansas are:
- DT Montravius Adams, Dooly Co. (Ga.) five-star
- DE Tim Williams, Louisiana University Laboratory School (La.) four-star
- CB Mackensie Alexander, Immokalee (Fla.) four-star
- DT Justin Manning, Kimball (Texas) four-star
- ATH Kendell Beckwith, East Feliciana (La.) four-star
- WR Devon Allen, Brophy Prep (Ariz.) four-star
Ahead of Them
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The one problem for any team in the SEC, not named Alabama and LSU, is that they're going to have to compete with Alabama and LSU for the top recruits in the country. That's no good for Arkansas.
Every year, the Razorbacks have to compete with every SEC team for the best players in the country.
So far in national recruiting rankings for 2013, Florida is No. 3, LSU No. 4, Georgia No. 6, Texas A&M No. 7, Alabama No. 8 and Auburn No. 10. Arkansas is tied with N.C. State at No. 48.
After National Signing Day this year, the Razorbacks ranked behind Alabama (first), Florida (third), Auburn (10th), Georgia (12th), Texas A&M (15th), Tennessee (17th), LSU (18th), South Carolina (19th), Vanderbilt (29th), Mississippi State (30th) and Missouri (31st).
That's 11 schools just in their conference ahead of them.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Although Arkansas has never had a great recruiting class, it still had success. But that was under Petrino.
Nothing against Smith, but he's not nearly as good a head coach as Petrino, regardless of what you think of Petrino's personal life and his tendency to jump from job to job.
Because of Petrino, the strength of Arkansas' recruiting class didn't matter as much as it does now. To compete at a high level in the SEC, the Razorbacks are going to have to do a better job at recruiting.
Petrino turned around the Arkansas program, making it a player in the SEC and on the national scene. The players may not have been the highest ranked coming out of high school, but Petrino got the most out of them.
Now we'll see if Smith can do the same.