Signing day positive for Hogs with a few exceptions

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: February 7, 2019 at 1 a.m. - Updated: February 7, 2019 at 1 a.m.
Jalen Catalon
Jalen Catalon

National signing dates have usually gone one of two ways for Arkansas football coaches -- calm and exciting or surprising and deflating.

Razorbacks coach Chad Morris and his staff had some of both Wednesday when Arkansas welcomed four new signees and watched three other targets decide to take their talents elsewhere.

There's no doubt that landing Pulaski Academy tight end Hudson Henry, Warren wide receiver Treylon Burks, Mansfield Legacy (Texas) safety Jalen Catalon and Phenix City Central (Ala.) running back A'Montae Spivey were huge gets.

Henry, Burks and Catalon were three of the five highest-rated signees in a class that now numbers 26, has 14 players rated four-star prospects, and is ranked 20th nationally by Rivals and 23rd by both ESPN and 24/7.

Spivey was the lone running back in the class with Ole Miss' attempt to steal him at the end coming up empty.

"When you're recruiting and on guys everyone else is after, we felt like the relationship in that school and his family was strong," Morris said. "At the end of the day, we continued to work and visit him and share our vision."

Those rankings do not include SMU graduate-transfer quarterback Ben Hicks, who is in school at Arkansas this semester and will go through spring practice with the Razorbacks.

Those also do not include Murfreesboro, Tenn., Blackman cornerback Adonis Otey, who flipped to Southern Cal on signing day after being committed to the Razorbacks since Aug. 1, and a pair of linebackers in Dodge City Community College's Lakia Henry (Ole Miss) and Dyersburg, Tenn., standout Chris Russell (Texas A&M).

Lakia Henry, while not committed to Arkansas, had given the Razorbacks every indication that he planned to sign with them and team next season with Arkansas star De'Jon "Scoota" Harris, who he spent Sunday with in Fayetteville.

But Henry delivered a stunning right hook Wednesday morning when he announced he would spend his final two years of eligibility in Oxford instead of Fayetteville.

The two "defections" led an obviously miffed Morris to say "if I have to beg you to come here, then I am going to have to beg you to play on third-and-short when it is tough" at his Wednesday press conference.

Arkansas has a consensus top 25 class nationally, which should be praised at a program that went 2-10 this past season and has won only six of its last 26 games.

The class is flush with talent that will contribute significantly right away, especially at wide receiver with a quarter of four-star wideouts, in the defensive line, in the secondary and via two of the junior college ranks best offensive linemen in Myron Cunningham and Chibueze Nwanna.

The class did come up short at linebacker with just one signee in Fort Bend, Texas, Travis star Zach Zimos.

Morris, who has three available spots left in the class, noted that he could seek some help at linebacker via graduate transfers.

The Razorbacks have also added at least seven preferred walk-ons to the fold in Searcy offensive lineman and early enrollee Drew Vest; Shiloh Christian offensive lineman Logan Kallesen; Greenwood defensive end Morgan Hannah; Jonesboro linebacker Logan Orr; Pulaski Academy wide receiver John David White; Dallas Highland Park safety Hudson Clark; and Tyler Grace (Texas) wide receiver Braydon Stone.

There's hope those guys will turn into players that push the program forward as well.

"We're always looking for winners and kids who love the Razorbacks," Morris said. "... To see those guys and watch each of their families as they committed to us was really special. The love of the Hogs, you've got to have that."

Sports on 02/07/2019

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