Bret Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks are off to a good start to the 2013 season.
After much anticipation and concern about whether or not Bielema would be able to bring in recruits after the Hogs' dismal 2012 season, Bielema answered the challenge by signing a host of 4-star and 3-star recruits who will give him the raw materials necessary for his new coaching staff to create a successful team.
Here are the final grades for Arkansas' 2013 recruitment class.
All images and rankings on ensuing slides via 247Sports.com.
One thing necessary to have success in the game of football is options. And Arkansas has acquired two quarterbacks who will give Bielema and his staff just that.
Austin Allen is a 4-star recruit from Fayetteville, Ark. He is ranked No. 17 as a pro-style quarterback in the country and No. 3 in his state.
Damon Mitchell is a 4-star recruit from New Jersey who ranks at No. 12 in the country as a dual-threat quarterback.
These two players will give the Hogs options to choose from and may even each see playing time this season depending on the game scenario.
It’s hard to complain about depth and options at a position when a team has two top-ranked quarterbacks with different skill sets who will allow an offense to face whatever opposing defenses throw at them.
The running back position at Arkansas is an enormous opportunity for a young player to come along and make an immediate impact.
All of the players on the current Arkansas roster will be sophomores next year, leaving plenty of chances for a freshman to break into the starting lineup.
Korliss Marshall is a 3-star recruit from Osceola, Ark., who could also play safety. He’s 6'0", weighs 190 pounds and is the kind of versatile athlete the Hogs can utilize just about anywhere. They have also signed Denzell Evans, a recruit from Bellaire, Texas.
The crown jewel in this recruiting class is Alex Collins, a 5-star recruit from Florida who has the best chance of consistently playing this season. There is only the small matter of securing his signature, but if he remains committed at Arkansas, he’ll be able to pair well with running back Jonathan Williams and the Razorbacks’ new offensive line.
The Razorbacks needed some more highly ranked recruits to fill out the position, but a 5-star recruit from Florida attending Arkansas is a testament to the change that Bielema is bringing to Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks did not bring in a lot of recruits to play as receivers. This is troubling given that Arkansas lost two of their best receiving options in wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg.
Arkansas did manage to bring in tight end Hunter Henry, a 4-star recruit from Little Rock, Ark., and Drew Morgan, a recruit from Greenwood, Ark., who played wide receiver and safety at Greenwood High School.
Maybe Bielema didn’t have enough time to shore up receiver recruitment, or maybe he felt like his current roster was already in a strong enough position.
But either way, it would have been nice for the Hogs to have had a few more options at wide receiver.
Bielema took some strong steps Wednesday to repair the Razorbacks’ lackluster offensive line.
The Hogs landed a pair of 4-star offensive guards in Reeve Koehler and Denver Kirkland. They also landed a 3-star recruit in Dan Skipper from Arvada, Colo., and offensive guard Johnathan McClure, an early enrollee from El Dorado, Ark.
Koehler and Kirkland will be in the best positions to make an impact for the Hogs during their freshmen seasons. The offensive guard position is wide open for the Razorbacks, and the opportunity is there for a few 4-star recruits to break into the starting lineup.
The fans are waiting to see how the offensive line improves during the 2013 season, and with two strong recruits, they may not have to wait that long.
Arkansas’ defense finally came together when they played LSU the last game of the 2012 season.
The Hogs only brought two defensive linemen into their 2013 class, defensive tackle Ke’Tyrus Marks and defensive end Tevin Beanum.
Marks is a 6'2", 285-pound 3-star recruit from Florida, one of the geographic areas that Bielema is looking to target for recruitment purposes in the future.
Tevin Beanum is a 6'4", 233-pound 3-star recruit from Forrest City, Ark.
Bielema is known for building strong defensive lines and may have already liked his current roster at Arkansas or fallen victim to time given his short tenure at the job so far.
He needs more candidates to replace the four seniors who graduate this year, but maybe he has something up his sleeve that we haven’t seen yet.
Bielema’s new crop of linebackers are a solid class of recruits with the potential to line up with current linebackers Otha Peters and A.J. Turner in the fall.
Myke Tavarres is a 6'2", 220-pound early enrollee from California. Brooks Ellis is a 6'2", 215-pound recruit from Fayetteville, Ark. Martrell Spaight is a 6'0", 220-pound recruit from Kansas.
All of them received 3-star rankings, and all of them will have something to prove when they step on the practice field in 2013.
If Bielema’s ultimate plan is to take 3-star recruits and coach them to greatness, he’s off to a good start at the linebacker position.
Bielema will have many options when it comes to safeties and cornerbacks in 2013.
Tiquention Coleman, Alex Brignoni and Melvinson Hartfield are all 3-star recruits. Early enrollee Carroll Washington of California is a 4-star recruit.
The Razorbacks, out of all of the cornerbacks and safeties on their current roster, only lost three seniors this season. The rest are mainly freshmen and sophomores, and the recent batch of solid recruits will ensure that there is plenty of competition and room for growth at the position.
The Razorbacks had difficulty containing runners and stopping the pass in 2012, and fans are eager to see what kind of improvements a defensive-minded coach like Bielema can make to the Hogs’ defensive performance this season.
Bielema did a competent job bringing in some solid recruits into the class of 2013.
He landed six 4-star recruits in key positions on both sides of the ball, 11 3-star recruits and (more than likely) a 5-star running back.
His two quarterbacks from this class will present the kinds of options that Bielema and Jim Chaney will need to install just about any kind of offensive scheme they want, and they've taken steps to strengthen the Hogs offensive line and defense, the primary areas of struggle from last season.
New hopes abound with the hire of any coach. All the fans have to do now is wait for the Hogs to take the field in the fall and see what Bielema can accomplish with the pieces he has acquired.
Overall Grade: C