Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
Hogs straddling top 30 in ratings
Rafe Peavey, a quarterback from Bolivar, Mo., answers questions during a National Signing Day ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, at the university's football complex.
Arkansas appeared to fill its needs when it unveiled its 24-man 2014 recruiting class Wednesday, and it left one of the nation’s most-respected analysts impressed.
“It’s a good overall class,” said national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network, who ranked Arkansas No. 29. “They got a year under their belt of recruiting the SEC this year, and you watch. They’ll do a lot better next year.”
Lemming praised the ability of four-star plus quarterback Rafe Peavey, 6-2, 208, 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Bolivar, Mo., one of four January enrollees who joined the 20 who signed letters of intent Wednesday to make up the 2014 class.
“I just think Rafe Peavey is a the real deal,” Lemming said. “I think he’s going to be a big star at Arkansas. I saw him throw at a couple of my camps last year.”
Rivals.com also ranks Arkansas’ class No. 29, while ESPN.com and Scout.com rate the class No. 30 and No. 33 respectively.
There was one who got away Wednesday, USA Today All-American Solomon Thomas. The defensive end from Coppell, Texas, chose Stanford over Arkansas and UCLA. He announced his decision on ESPNU.
The Hogs received the signature of highly regarded receiver Jojo Robinson, 6-0, 186, 4.4, of Miami Northwestern. Lemming rates Robinson a three-star plus recruit.
“Jojo is a good ball player,” Lemming said. “They would’ve loved to have gotten Solomon Thomas, which would’ve given them that centerpiece-type player.”
The Hogs beat out Florida State, Minnesota and about 20 others schools for four-star offensive lineman Frank Ragnow, 6-6, 291, 5.0, of Victoria (Minn.) Chanhassen.
“They got a top kid out of Minnesota,” Lemming said. “Minnesota had a great year, and to get him away from Minnesota was quite a catch. It just shows these guys know how to go about recruiting and not just recruit a familiar territory.”
Arkansas also signed four star offensive tackle Brian Wallace Jr., 6-6, 304, 5.1, of St. Louis Christian Brothers. He picked Arkansas over Alabama, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio State and others.
“He’s another big-time catch,” Lemming said. “He has great size. He’s got the length, the long arms, the quick feet that you like, and he looks thin at 300 pounds. He can move, he’s very athletic. He plays in a very good program at CBC.”
The Hogs also signed three-star-plus offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt, 6-6, 295, 5.1, of Dallas Bishop Dunne and three-star offensive guard Sebastian Tretola, 6-4 1/2, 315, 4.9, of Iowa Western Community College.
“They’ve really helped strengthen that offensive line,” Lemming said.
North Little Rock running back Juan Day, 6-2, 210, 4.5, is one of the signees Lemming believes people are overlooking.
“I think he could be one of the keepers,” said Lemming, who rates Day a four-star recruit. “Juan Day is one the better players.”
The Razorbacks signed one of the nation’s elite defensive tackles in Bijhon Jackson, 6-2, 330, 5.1, of El Dorado. Lemming rates Jackson a four-star prospect.
“Everybody likes these defensive tackles that are stout and occupy blockers,” Lemming said. “That’s what he looks like on film. He can occupy blockers and stop the run up the middle. There aren’t many like that. I saw maybe 10 this year like that and he’s one of them, so Arkansas is lucky to get him.”
The Hogs helped themselves in the secondary with three-star safety Santos Ramirez, 6-2, 180, 4.55, from Shreveport Evangel. He had offers from LSU, Baylor, Notre Dame and others
“He’s a real good athlete,” Lemming said. “He has good speed, but not great speed. He has real good size, and he’s known as a hitter. “
Arkansas added two three star-plus cornerbacks in Henre’ Toliver 6-1, 180, 4.56, of Metairie (La.) Rummel and Cornelius Floyd, 6-1, 170, 4.48, of Miami Gulliver Prep who give the Hogs added size.
The Hogs might not be done. Defensive lineman Tae Thibodeaux, 6-2, 275, 4.9, of New Iberia (La.) Westgate said Arkansas offered him a scholarship Tuesday night, and he has plans to officially visit Feb. 21.
Sports, Pages 18 on 02/06/2014