It is the home stretch of recruiting for the 2010 class and a crucial period of recruiting for the 2011 class.
While the Arkansas coaching staff works to improve the team for the future with their recruiting efforts, Hog fans from coast to coast are already envisioning a 2010 with BCS implications.
The fans are not the only ones thinking that 2010 will be a season with championship implications. The Arkansas coaching staff and players have the same thoughts in mind.
The national media already is hyping Alabama to make a run at repeating as national champions, and that is a very strong possibility. The Crimson Tide has talent to spare and is coached by one of the best coaches in all of the country in Nick Saban.
But do not discount the losses in experience and leadership that the Tide is going to have to overcome. On offense, the Tide will be losing All-American left guard Mike Johnson, right tackle Drew Davis, and tight end Colin Peek.
Defensively Alabama is losing nine starters. The biggest area hit will be the defensive line with three seniors graduating. The most notable loss on the line will be that of All-American nose tackle Terrence Cody.
The linebacker group also will take a huge hit, with three linebackers departing. Rolando McClain, who won the Butkus Award this season, opted to declare for the NFL draft and forgo his senior season.
Alabama has the talent to replace these players, but those players are yet to prove themselves and have some very big shoes to fill.
Still, next season when the Crimson Tide comes to Fayetteville to face off with the Hogs, expect the circus to come to town and eyes across the nation to be focused on the early SEC battle of contenders.
The Razorbacks defense struggled in 2009 but was made up of mostly underclassmen. The biggest loss to the defense is Malcolm Sheppard, who graduated this year.
Still, in 2010 the Arkansas defense will actually improve in depth and experience. We will have plenty of time to cover the defense's areas of needed improvement up until next fall.
The story for the Razorbacks in 2010 will be offense. It will be the last season for D.J. Williams and likely the last for Ryan Mallett, and the Hogs return more starters than anyone in the SEC.
In 2009, the Razorbacks had the best offense in all of the SEC and arguably the best quarterback in the SEC in Mallett. Pair that with arguably the best WR corps, and also take into consideration that the star QB and WR players were sophomores, and the 2010 Hogs look to be a sleeper SEC West contender.
Anything less for the players, coaches, and fans will be a disappointment.
Ryan Mallett did not forgo going into the NFL Draft to come back to Arkansas to go to another Liberty Bowl or even a Cotton Bowl.
No, 2010 is BCS or bust for the Hogs. That will be their goal.
Now if it seems that these are overly ambitious expectations, and that here goes another plane-flying crazy Arkansas fan, all I have to say to that is touché.
But really, this is the expectation within the program. The coaches have openly talked about it in their press conferences, and the players also are spreading the word.
The Hogs need big improvement in 2010 for this to happen, but they have the pieces in place and will have a much more favorable schedule in 2010 with their biggest tests coming at home. Alabama, Ole Miss, and LSU all travel to Arkansas to face the Hogs.
The national media has started to jump on board, with more than a handful of the “way too early” preseason polls placing the Hogs in the top 20 and labeling them as a “sleeper” or “dark horse” for a run at the SEC title.
As national signing day approaches, it will only be a short time later that the Hogs go into spring practice, then summer practice, followed by the fall.
All the while, the buzz about Arkansas and their 2010 season will continue to grow, along with the Ryan Mallett for Heisman buzz.
The Hogs want people to think of them as a very good team because they are a very good team with the ability to be great.
Yes, a circus is coming to town in 2010, and all I have to say to that is, bring on the hype.
This article was written by Blake Stansbery of Born Hog Wild.
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