Bret Bielema needs to focus on hiring top recruiters as he fills the remaining roles in his inaugural coaching staff at Arkansas.
Bielema has already hired Jim Chaney and Sam Pittman away from Tennessee to be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, respectively.
He has brought defensive coordinator Chris Ash and defensive line coach Charlie Partridge with him from Wisconsin.
This leaves only a few slots available for Bielema to bring in top recruiters who have experience in the SEC, particularly in the state of Texas.
While some of these recruiters may be a longshot for Bielema to bring to Fayetteville, it should be noted that no one expected him or his defensive coaches to come to Arkansas either.
Anything is possible, and Arkansas has committed itself to investing its resources in facilities and bringing in a strong coach from the Big Ten.
If Arkansas keeps that same commitment in bringing in top recruiters, they could have a shot at some big names from the recruiting trail.
Dameyune Craig, Florida State, quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator
Dameyune Craig recently interviewed for Gus Malzahn at Auburn. He decided to remain at Florida State and turned down a $100,000 raise in the process.
Craig worked in the SEC before under Nick Saban at LSU. He has SEC recruiting experience and has helped Florida State to a No. 11 ranked recruiting class for 2013.
His desire to stay at Florida State may have more to do with wanting a promotion than more money. But if Arkansas still has funds available after its recent coaching hires, they would do well to go all in and see if money would be enough of a lure to bring Craig to Fayetteville and back to the SEC.
Clarence McKinney, Texas A&M, running backs coach
Arkansas has relied on Texas recruits for years. The hiring of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman from Tennessee should help the Hogs cover more ground to the east, but they still need to shore up their recruiting strength in the West.
Clarence McKinney joined the Texas A&M staff in January of this year and has helped the Aggies build the No. 6 ranked recruiting class for 2013.
A move to Arkansas would be a lateral move as far as conference is concerned, and McKinney would be leaving a team that just came off of a 10-2 season for a team in a rebuilding period.
But there would be the lure of coaching running backs for a Bielema team that would primarily run the ball and utilize the quarterback as a piece in an offense, as opposed to an offense dominated by Johnny Manziel.
This would give any players McKinney coaches more opportunities to shine, which in turn could help him land a promotion as an offensive coordinator faster than if he stays at Texas A&M.
McKinney gets the opportunity to advance his career sooner than later, and Arkansas keeps the pipeline to Texas open. That’s a win for everybody.
John Lilly, Georgia, tight ends coach
John Lilly has served as the tight ends coach for the Georgia Bulldogs since 2008 and has helped build the program into a Top-10 team this season.
He also has connections in Florida from his time at Florida State.
It would be long shot for Lilly to leave Georgia for Arkansas, but Arkansas competes in the SEC West and plays top teams like LSU and Alabama every season.
Coaching in the SEC gets a coach noticed faster than coaching in other conferences, but coaching in the SEC West gets a coach noticed that much faster.
It would be possible that Lilly would welcome the opportunity to test his mettle consistently against the top teams in the country. Being successful in a place like Arkansas would only serve to advance his career going forward.
Bo Davis, Texas, defensive backs
Bo Davis is in his second season at the University of Texas as the defensive backs coach.
The Longhorns’ 2013 recruiting class is currently ranked No. 10.
Davis would be able to further shore up Arkansas’ recruiting in Texas, one of the Razorbacks’ recruiting hotspots.
He also has experience in the SEC working for Nick Saban at LSU and Alabama. That is SEC experience that the new Arkansas coaching staff needs.
A move from Texas to Arkansas might be a step back for Davis, having already come from two of the SEC’s premier programs. It might be a stretch to say that he would give up his position with the Longhorns to return to the SEC at Arkansas.
But Arkansas has updated facilities and plans to renovate even more, and athletic director Jeff Long has the funds to bring in a top recruiter like Davis for the right price.
If Long can hire Bielema and Ash away from Wisconsin, there is no reason to suggest that he would not be able to utilize the same commitment in bringing in Davis or any other top level recruiter.
Long just has to show any candidate that he and the university are willing to do their parts to ensure that whoever decide to bring in will have a chance to succeed.