Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Trend of early enrollees growing
The University of Arkansas 2021 recruiting class included 10 high school signees who were early enrollees in January. It appears the 2022 class will surpass that number.
The trend of high school athletes enrolling early and going through offseason workouts, spring practice and getting acclimated to college life and academics started in the early-to-mid 2000s and has accelerated in the past 10 years.
Stanford was the last Power 5 school to join the trend. The Cardinal had two early enrollees in January and was the last non-service academy FBS school to do so, according to the Stanford Daily.
The Associated Press reported all but four Power 5 teams had at least one early enrollee in 2016. The story reported West Virginia, North Carolina State and Florida having the most freshmen enrolling early with nine each, and more than 250 enrolled early nationwide.
Sixteen Arkansas commitments are expected to enroll in January and another, long snapper Eli Stein, is waiting to see if a scholarship is available for him to enroll early. If not, he’ll report for the first semester of summer school.
Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network has been covering the national recruiting scene since 1978. He believes prospects feel they’ll lose ground to other signees if they don’t enroll early.
“They feel like if they don’t go and the other guys are going, they have one leg up on them,” Lemming said.
Ohio State reportedly had 15 early enrollees in January while Alabama had 14, Florida had 12 and LSU welcomed 9 early.
“The last five, six years is when everybody seems to be zooming in on (early enrollees),” Lemming said. “It was usually the quarterbacks that went early so they could get a jump on things but now you’re seeing all the players do it. They’re encouraged by college coaches so they can have them on campus a few extra months. It really helps them and it gets the kid acclimated to the program.”
Seven of the eight defensive commitments plan to be on the Arkansas campus in January. Defensive backs Anthony Brown, Jaylen Lewis and Myles Rowser; linebackers Jordan Crook, Kaden Henley and Mani Powell; and defensive lineman JJ Hollingsworth plan to enroll early, while defensive lineman Nico Davillier will report after the spring semester.
Offensively, the Hogs are expected to welcome offensive linemen Andrew Chamblee, E’Marion Harris and Eli Henderson; tight ends Dax Courtney and Tyrus Washington; running backs Rashod Dubinion and James Jointer; and receiver Quincey McAdoo to school in January.
Punter Max Fletcher also plans to enroll early.
“The negative part is they miss their prom, they miss finishing school with their friends. They’re jumping into adulthood months earlier but the pluses outweigh the minuses,” Lemming said.
Of Arkansas’ 10 early high school enrollees for the 2021 class, running back Raheim "Rocket" Sanders, receiver Ketron Jackson, kicker Cameron Little and safety Jayden Johnson have logged the most playing time.
Other early enrollees seeing the field this season are linebacker Christopher Paul Jr. and running back Javion Hunt, who have played in two and one contests, respectively, while the other three have not played.
Signees who reported to Fayetteville in the summer and have played this season include running back AJ Green, who has made a sizable impact while playing in 10 games; receiver Bryce Stephens, who has appeared in three games; and receiver Jaedon Wilson and quarterback Landon Rogers have played in one.
Offensive line commitment Patrick Kutas and receiver commitment Isaiah Sategna also plan to join Davillier and report to Fayetteville in the summer.
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