Pittman 'proud' of effort that lands '22 class

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, December 16, 2021
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman speaks to reporters Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Fayetteville.
( J.T. Wampler)
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman speaks to reporters Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas Razorbacks brought in a top-20 signing haul Wednesday that was highlighted by 10 signees from the state and a record number of early enrollees.

The class for the Razorbacks was positioned at No. 18 by the 247Sports composite rankings and as high as No. 12 by Rivals.

“I feel like each year we’re getting a little bit better with our classes,” Coach Sam Pittman said. “I think we’ll continue to move up in those things.

“We want to be right on who we get. We won’t offer a kid a scholarship if we wouldn’t take him. So I’m proud of our staff, of our recruiting department.”

The Razorbacks had only one known brush with signing day drama. Cornerback Laterrance Welch of Lafayette, La., was reportedly considering a flip to Arkansas at the 11th hour, but Welch stayed with his commitment to LSU at a 4 p.m. signing.

More from WholeHogSports: Full signing day coverage

“We didn’t have any surprises so far,” Pittman said earlier in the afternoon. “We’re still waiting on one or two, but we signed 19 high school kids, two transfers and a Prokick Australia guy.

“I’m very, very excited about the class. We think we addressed most of our needs. We still have some scholarships available, so we will work through the portal and get that handled.”

The Razorbacks’ class ranking did not include two of the more heralded players they landed on signing day. Former 5-star receiver Jaden Haselwood, originally an Oklahoma signee, was an acquisition from the transfer portal as was former 4-star defensive end Landon Johnson of Texarkana, who originally signed with LSU before getting in the portal.

Pittman and his staff landed the top six players in the state as rated in the 247Sports composite rankings.

That group is composed of 4-star prospects in Fayetteville receiver Isaiah Sategna, Maumelle offensive tackle Andrew Chamblee, Joe T. Robinson offensive tackle E’Marion Harris and Clarendon wideout Quincey McAdoo, and 3-star prospects in Maumelle defensive lineman Nico Davillier and Fayetteville linebacker Mani Powell.

Other Arkansas-based signees were tight end Dax Courtney of Clarendon, linebacker Kaden Henley of Shiloh Christian, defensive end JJ Hollingsworth of Greenland and running back James Jointer of Little Rock Parkview.

The Razorbacks scored four players from the Rivals 250, with Sategna at 160, McAdoo at 206, running back Rashad Dubinion of Ellenwood, Ga., at 221 and Harris at 247. Arkansas would tie a school record with five in the Rivals 250 if safety Myles Rowser of Belleville, Ill., stays with his commitment. Rowser has said he plans to sign his letter of intent in February.

Arkansas also signed five players from the Rivals 250 in 2015 and 2019.

Chamblee is ranked No. 234 on the ESPN 300 list of the nation’s top recruits. Rowser is No. 295 on the ESPN 300.

The class also contains 18 early enrollees, easily a record for the Razorbacks.

“You get a guy in spring ball, you have a chance,” Pittman said. “Certainly the ones that are ready, we’ll get ready. The ones that aren’t, hopefully we can get them on some type of special teams and help us through there.

“I don’t think it was too many years ago when if you got one, you got two who graduated at Christmas, it was kind of a big deal. Now, I know it’s at least 17. … I think it’s between 17-19, and the number certainly can grow. You bring in 20 guys … in the spring, you’re losing 20-something, you have a chance to continue to get better.”

The coaching staff left room for at least six incoming players, including Rowser, who could be high school players or transfers.

Arkansas landed two special teams players in punter Max Fletcher of Melbourne, Australia, and deep snapper Eli Stein of Cambridge, Wis.

The class does not so far include a quarterback, as Pittman touted the potential for landing a big-time player or two at that spot in 2023.

Three areas the Razorbacks hit hard was offensive line, receiver and linebacker, areas of upcoming need.

Harris, a 6-7, 370-pounder, and the 6-6, 285-pound Chamblee headline the group of four offensive line signees. Also in that mix are 6-4, 290-pound Eli Henderson of Duncan, S.C., and 6-5, 284-pound Patrick Kutas of Memphis Christian Brothers.

“You have Chamblee, whom I think has the potential to be a great player,” Pittman said. “He has everything: Size, feet, all those things.

“Then I love Kutas. … I offered Henderson when I was at Georgia. E’Marion Harris moves very well, had a really good state championship game for a huge person.

“Eli Henderson, we got him because we think he’s a center/guard. And then Patrick Kutas, he’s got a really good high school coach. I think he’s going to be ready. I think he’ll play, or has got potential to play, early in his career.”

With ace Treylon Burks, Tyson Morris and De’Vion Warren leaving the wide receiver group, the Razorbacks needed and got an infusion of talent there, beginning with the experienced Haselwood, a 6-3, 200-pounder.

Arkansas tailbacks coach Jimmy Smith had both Haselwood and Dubinion on his team at Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Ga., before he joined the college coaching ranks at Georgia State.

Haselwood, Sategna, McAdoo and Sam M’bake, a 6-3, 205-pounder from Kennesaw, Ga., figure to help the Hogs reload at wideout.

“I think if you look back at last year’s class, I think we hit on all three of those guys,” Pittman said, referencing wideouts Ketron Jackson Jr., Bryce Stephens and Jaedon Wilson. “They’re just young, but I think we hit on all three of those. I think they’re all three going to be really good players for us.

“Obviously Coach Smith certainly was instrumental in Haselwood, but then you have M’bake, McAdoo and certainly Sategna. Those guys I think are very talented. They’re all a little bit different.

“We wanted to stay as big as we possibly could in length so we could win one-on-one contested balls. But Sategna was just so fast and, to be honest with you, very physical for his size and can win a one-on-one battle. In high school, he was winning them all the time.”

The Razorbacks landed three sets of high school teammates: Sategna and Powell at Fayetteville, Chamblee and Davillier at Maumelle, McAdoo and Courtney at Clarendon, and Dubinion and Haselwood at Ellenwood Cedar Grove.

Jointer will be joining former Parkview teammates Landon Rogers and Erin Outley, who are both tight ends, on the Razorbacks’ roster.

Additionally, defensive back signees Anthony Brown of Milan, Tenn., and Jaylen Lewis of Brownsville (Tenn.) Haywood live about 40 minutes apart in eastern Tennessee and are good friends.

“The thing I like when you watch film of Brown and Lewis is they both could be really good wide receivers,” Pittman said. “They’ve got really good ball skills, good speed. Both of them are really good friends and that helps I think.”


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