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.
The Recruiting Guy:
Recruiting tests await new UA staff
An Arkansas football is shown on the field prior to a game against Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.
The University of Arkansas had 14 commitments going into Saturday's game against Western Kentucky. After the firing of Chad Morris as the Hogs' head coach Sunday, the Razorbacks are now down to six.
Athlete-receiver Darin Turner of Memphis Central became the eight prospect committed for the 2020 class to reopen his recruitment Wednesday.
Tight end Brandon Frazier of McKinney (Texas) North and quarterback Chandler Morris of Dallas Highland Park reopened their recruiting Tuesday. Others that have reopened their recruitment include tight end Allen Horace of Crockett, Texas, receiver Savion Williams of Marshall, Texas, receiver Mason Mangum of Austin (Texas) Westlake, running back John Gentry of Houston North Shore and athlete Kelvontay Dixon of Carthage, Texas.
Horace said he would reconsider the Hogs if associate head coach and running backs coach Jeff Traylor and interim head coach Barry Lunney Jr. are retained by the next head coach, while Dixon said having Traylor a part of the next coaching staff would also help him consider Arkansas again.
Arkansas' new coach will face the same challenges that Morris and his staff faced when arriving in Fayetteville. When Morris was hired in December of 2017, 11 prospects were committed to Arkansas that former coach Bret Bielema had recruited. Morris and his staff signed four of the commitments. The staff honored the scholarship offers of four other pledges, but they decided to sign with other schools while three of the commitments didn't have their scholarship offers honored by Morris and went elsewhere.
Morris and the Hogs eventually added 13 new prospects and signed a total of 17 recruits for the 2018 class.
A Forbes article in 2018, reported approximately 2,800 prospects sign letters of intent with college football programs. Approximately 70% of recruits sign during the early period since it started for the 2018 class.
Morris and his staff inked 21 prospects for the 2019 class during last year's early signing period and added four more on the traditional signing day in February.
The new coach will likely try to sign 23 to 25 prospects for the 2020 class. With the early signing period being Dec. 18-20, the new coach and his staff will have a tremendous challenge in trying to piece together a class.
Arkansas' new coach will also have to decide whether to honor the scholarship offers of the remaining commitments and pursue the prospects who reopened their recruitment along with others that were being recruited by the previous staff.
Another challenge for Arkansas' new coach will be trying to keep the current roster intact.
The transfer portal has given college athletes the freedom to transfer without permission of their coach as it was previously.
College coaches had the power to deny an athlete's desire to transfer until the portal was formed in 2018. Student-athletes can now tell their school's compliance department their wishes to transfer, and the school has 48 hours to enter the athlete's name into the portal.
During Sunday night's meeting with Arkansas' football players, Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek asked them to not to jump into the portal before meeting and talking to the new coach. The task of keeping players on campus instead of transferring will be key to the Hogs' chances of success on the field the next few years.
Being able to convince members of the highly regarded 2019 class to stay in Fayetteville will be priority. The class has a chance to help turn the program the next few years.
The importance of keeping some of the current assistants on staff is probably more important than ever because of the portal and the tendency of athletes transferring at higher rates than in the past.
The roster on Arkansas' football web page lists 47 freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores and redshirt sophomores being on scholarship. The majority were recruited by the assistants on staff.
Having some familiar faces on staff the players respect and trust could go a long ways in possibly keeping them at Arkansas.
E-mail Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 11/15/2019
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.