Linemen give Hogs big week in recruiting

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chibueze Nwanna (left) and Myron Cunningham have committed to play for Arkansas in 2019.
Chibueze Nwanna (left) and Myron Cunningham have committed to play for Arkansas in 2019.

It’s been quite a past two days for Arkansas coach Chad Morris and Razorback offensive line coach Dustin Fry.

Those two gleefully welcomed the pledges of a pair of early enrollee junior college offensive linemen in Myron Cunningham (6-5, 300 pounds) of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Central Community College and Chibueze Nwanna (6-8, 314) of Scranton, Pa., Lackawanna CC.

“Wow! Great two days for the O-line,” Fry tweeted without mentioning names while adhering to NCAA rules. “We keep getting better. The 19th can’t get here quick enough #trenchhogs19.”

The 19th refers to the December signing day when high school and junior college commits can first ink their national letter-of-intents.

Nwanna’s pledge also brought a tweet from Morris.

“Come on home Big Fella!” Morris tweeted. “WOOOOOOOO (Pig) SOOIE! #HammerDown."

We all know that the hammer didn’t get thrown down during this 2-10 season, but it should move much closer to the nail with the influx of talent, speed and skill coming in the Razorbacks’ highly-regarded 2019 recruiting class.

It’s a class that Rivals believes is the 11th-best in the country with 12 4-star prospects (dwarfing the number in Razorback classes of the past) and 13 3-star players.

The names ahead of Arkansas in the Rivals rankings are Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, Clemson, Texas, LSU, Oregon, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Michigan.

All four College Football Playoff teams are in there and all except the Razorbacks have healthy programs that won eight or more games this season.

It makes no sense whatsoever for Arkansas to be in the group, but it’s a testament to the hard work and effort that Morris and his staff have put toward the recruiting trail since they arrived.

It’s even a big-time achievement if you believe the class should be ranked 16th as it is by ESPN and 17th by 24/7.

Nwanna is ranked as the sixth-best offensive line prospect and the 36th-best junior college overall prospect by 24/7 while Cunningham comes in as the 10th-best offensive line prospect and 65th overall in the same rankings.

The additions bring the number of Arkansas commits in the 2019 recruiting class to 27, a pair of which are privately pledged to the staff.

It looks like the final two spots will go to a junior college linebacker and possibly a grad transfer quarterback.

Cunningham expressed a sentiment shared often by Arkansas recruits noting that he is all in on helping turn around a program that has won only six of its last 26 games.

“In my two years at Arkansas I plan on one, building a brotherhood with the players and coaches and two, turning the program into a winning program and leaving my mark,” Cunningham said. “Finally, I hope to get that SEC championship while I’m there and go as far as we can.”

Nwanna made it clear that he felt needed and wanted by the Razorbacks.

“I feel very needed,” Nwanna said. “I feel I could come in and make an improvement and get better. I still have a lot of stuff to work on, but I could come in and make improvement, help the team and the team help me.”

Both will arrive in Fayetteville in January, go through strength and conditioning workouts and spring practices and are expected to be cornerstones of a revamped offensive line that will have at least three new starters.

It’s thought that as many as 24 of the expected 29 signees will ink their national letters of intent during the Dec. 19-21 high school early signing period or the mid-year junior college transfer cycle of Dec. 19-Jan. 15.

The ones not expected to sign early for various reasons are Pulaski Academy tight end Hudson Henry, Warren wide receiver Treylon Burks, Phenix City, Ala., Central tailback A’Montae Spivey, Ellenwood, Ga., Cedar Grove defensive end Dante Walker and Pflugerville, Texas, Hendrickson safety Myles Brooks.

Arkansas should be able to get right to work with this class with at least nine and maybe more early enrollees.

That includes the two junior college offensive linemen, defensive ends Zach Williams, Mataio Soli and Eric Gregory, wide receivers Trey Knox and Shamar Nash, cornerback Devin Bush and preferred walk on offensive lineman Drew Vest of Searcy.

Let’s be honest, there was not much to be positive about during a season that started and ended with some head scratching. But anybody that can’t see this staff can recruit just is burying his or head in the sand.

Any fan base needs hope and it appears it is finally on the horizon.

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