Head coach Bret Bielema
National signing day on Feb. 5 is inching closer and closer with each passing day. Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema and his staff are in full-recruiting mode, hosting a group of prospects last weekend and another important group this weekend.
The Hogs have 19 commits for the 2014 class and are looking to add onto it. Arkansas has over 20 targets it is after, with some being more important than others. Out of all those targets, three are considered top priorities.
The good news for the Razorbacks is that they have a very realistic shot at landing their top three remaining targets for this year's class. That doesn't guarantee anything, though, and Bielema and his staff still have a lot of closing to do to call Feb. 5 a success.
Here, we'll review Arkansas' chances of landing its top three targets for signing day.
Four-star offensive tackle Frank Ragnow, who hails from Chanhassen, Minn., via 247Sports, has been involved with the Hogs for a while now. Bielema and O-line coach Sam Pittman know that pulling Ragnow away from his home state would be a huge victory for the program.
Ragnow has great size at 6'6", 291 pounds and is an advanced run blocker. He has to work on his pass blocking, but he has the ability to step in and make an impact early. He recently tweeted his final three schools, which include Florida State, Minnesota and the Razorbacks:
Many have continued to count the Hogs out, with 247Sports Crystal Ball Predictions giving Arkansas a zero percent chance of landing him. However, they also gave Ohio State a seven percent chance, and it didn't even make his top three.
Bielema and Co. have to feel good that they're going to be among the three Ragnow chooses. The Daily Gopher wrote that it is believed his decision will come down to Minnesota and Arkansas, with the Gophers being the favorites. Still, the Hogs have made it this far, and it wouldn't be a total shock if he went with them considering they have one of the nation's best O-line coaches in Pittman.
It still is going to be hard to get him away from his home state, giving the Hogs more a 40 to 45 percent chance of being his college destination. That might not seem like a lot, but it's enough to make Minnesota fans uncomfortable while waiting for his decision.
Two big needs for Arkansas are defensive backs and wide receivers, and 247Sports' 4-star athlete JoJo Robinson can play either position for the Razorbacks.
Robinson has good speed, having run a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, and athleticism. He also has very good ball skills and hands, both of which would help him at the cornerback or wideout positions. This weekend will be huge for Arkansas in trying to land him with him making his official visit.
He has been considered a soft verbal to Florida State for well over a year now, but the key word is soft. He is being recruited to Arkansas by linebackers coach Randy Shannon, who has had a big impact on the Hogs presence in the Sunshine State. HawgSports.com just updated their Big Red Board (subscription required) and said that despite his soft verbal to the Seminoles, the Razorbacks have a "very good chance at landing him."
Even the Crystal Ball Predictions on Robinson have him heavily favoring Arkansas, with 91 percent percent predicting he will choose the Hogs.
Still, there's always the chance of him deciding to stay in state and remain with Florida State, so I give a 75 percent chance to call the Hogs come Feb. 5.
A composite 5-star defensive end according to 247Sports, Solomon Thomas would be the signature of the day if Bielema can land the highly coveted prospect from Coppell, Texas.
Thomas recently eliminated Texas and Ohio State, leaving Arkansas, Stanford and UCLA as the finalist. Stanford appears to be the favorite, with the Hogs sitting in second. The Crystal Ball Predictions had 80 percent saying he'd go to Stanford and Arkansas just two.
However, don't write off the Hogs. Those predictions also gave Texas and Ohio State 11 and seven percent chances and, now, neither one of the programs is even in consideration.
As the Big Red Board stated, "Arkansas has a lot working in its favor, too." He was moved from medium to high interest on it and will be making his official visit to The Hill this weekend. Thomas has a sister named Ella who is a student at Arkansas, and his dad does business in the Fayetteville area.
It's going to be a challenge to best Stanford, but his visit this weekend could be the deciding factor. Because the Hogs get the last crack at him and have family ties with him, his chances at picking the Hogs seem to be nearing a 50-50 tossup between them and Stanford.
Even landing one of these guys would be huge for the class, but landing all three would have Bielema doing backflips. That will be tough, though in recruiting, you just never really know what is going to happen until a recruit makes his decision.
Bryan Heater is the featured columnist for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Follow him on Twitter @BHeaterRivals.