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:
4-star Kaleb James commits to Arkansas
Three days after visiting Fayetteville, 4-star defensive lineman Kaleb James has committed to Arkansas in large part because of Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman.
"Just because Coach Pittman is so real and everything about Arkansas is just blue collar and work hard,” said James, who is celebrating his 17th birthday today. “That's the type person I am."
James, 6-4, 250 pounds, of Mansfield, Texas, picked the Razorbacks over more than 20 other scholarship offers from schools like Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Minnesota, Arizona and other programs.
Prior to James’ commitment, ESPN rated Arkansas’ class No. 6 in the nation for 2023. He made his fifth trip to Fayetteville since last summer on Saturday.
"The visit was a lot of fun,” James said. “I made a bigger relationship with the coaches, got to know them more. I had a good conversation with Coach Pittman. Also talked to him a lot more and got to know him a lot more.”
James visited the Razorbacks for the Auburn and Missouri football games. Saturday’s visit allowed for plenty of 1-on-1 time with the coaching staff.
"This visit, you could actually sit down, get to know them as a person, what their views are about, what they view this program as and things like that,” he said.
His relationship with defensive line coach Jermial Ashley also influenced his decision.
"Me and Coach Ashley have a really good relationship,” he said. “We FaceTime every now and then, talk to each other, catch up on each other's weeks and see how each other is doing. I think he's a really good coach. Very humble guy and overall a really good coach."
He also attended Arkansas’ victory over Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, in September.
"That was a crazy game,” James said. “Didn't really know what to expect going into it. I knew Arkansas would get the job done, so that's what I believed in the beginning and that's what ended up happening."
ESPN rates James a 4-star prospect, the No. 41 defensive end and No. 272 overall prospect in the nation for the 2023 class.
He had 57 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 27 quarterback hurries, 1 fumble recovery and 1 pass defended as a sophomore at Fort Worth Nolan Catholic. As a junior, he recorded 105 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 36 quarterback hurries, 5 recovered fumbles and 2 forced fumbles.
James plans to return to Fayetteville for another visit on Saturday. Seeing the progress of the Arkansas program the past two seasons under Pittman has impressed him.
"I think Coach Pittman has really turned this program around,” James said. “When he got (the job), the team wasn't doing too hot. He's totally turned this program and doing good things with it.”
James in the sixth commitment in the 2023 class.
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