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:
Recruiting success breeds same for Razorbacks
Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman is shown during a Razorbacks basketball game against South Carolina on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, in Fayetteville.
The saying “success breeds success” holds true in recruiting with prospects paying attention to the results on the field and in recruiting.
Prospects have been encouraged by University of Arkansas football Coach Sam Pittman’s program on the field and recruiting of the NCAA transfer portal and recruiting classes he and his staff have put together and are working on for the future.
The Hogs’ 9-4 season — along with success of last year’s haul from the portal and the 2021 and 2022 classes along with the early success of the 2023 class — has recruits impressed.
Junior linebacker Justin Cryer, 6-2, 225 pounds, of Broookshire (Texas) Royal, has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Arizona State, Florida State, Texas San-Antonio, and Sam Houston State.
“Yeah, I’ve seen that Coach Pittman is building a competitive team through the portal and with the high profile commits in the ’22 and ’23 class,” Cryer said.
ESPN rates Arkansas’ 2023 recruiting class as the fourth-best nationally, while the 2022 class was rated No. 15 to No. 20 nationally by recruiting services. CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming had the class at No. 16.
Pittman and staff have signed high-profile transfers Jadon Haselwood, Drew Sanders, Dwight McGlothern and Landon Jackson and are awaiting word from former Georgia defensive back Latavious Brini, who officially visited the Hogs earlier this week.
The Hogs hosted an impressive list of prospects last Saturday, including Cypress (Texas) Cy Ranch junior and ESPN 4-star defensive lineman Ashton Porter, who is Cryer’s cousin.
“Me and him talked about potentially playing together again,” said Cryer, who plans to visit Arkansas during the summer.
ESPN 4-star running back Javin Simpkins, 5-9, 177 pounds, of Miami Norland, is being recruited by Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith. He said he’s impressed with the Hogs’ success in recruiting high school prospects and college athletes in the portal.
“It definitely helps my level of interest for sure,” Simpkins said. “I spoke with Coach Smith today, and he said he doesn’t want any running backs from the transfer portal if he doesn’t need to. It means a lot to be one of their top recruits and Arkansas is definitely one of my top priorities.”
Simpkins has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Texas, Louisville, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Central Florida, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Indiana and others.
ESPN rates Simpkins the No. 8 running back and the No. 143 overall prospect in the nation for the 2023 class. He plans to make an unofficial visit to Fayetteville.
“I’m planning to get up there in March,” Simpkins said.
Junior linebacker Karmelo Overton, 6-3, 215 pounds, of Ozark (Ala.) Carroll, plans to visit Fayetteville on Jan. 29. He has offers from Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Arizona State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.
He said the Hogs’ ability to ink highly regarded athletes is attractive.
“I want to be able to play next to high level guys anywhere I go and that will make a big difference in where I decide to go for the next four years,” Overton said.
Sophomore receiver Ryan Wingo, 6-2, 198 pounds, of St. Louis University High School, has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss, Illinois and others.
“It for sure grabs my attention because it means they must be doing something right to be able to get high profile guys,” Wingo said of the Hogs’ recruiting.
He visited for Arkansas victory over Texas on Sept. 11 and was to visit last weekend but inclement weather forced him to cancel. He plans to reschedule a trip to Fayetteville.
Sophomore linebacker target Payton Pierce, 6-2, 225 pounds, of Lucas (Texas) Lovejoy High School, has been high on the Hogs since visiting last summer and attending wins over Texas and Texas A&M.
“I followed the Hogs all season. … I am sure that has helped a ton with all the high level transfers and recruits, which is great to see,” Pierce said. “Arkansas plays tough and plays hard and you can tell that’s what is important to the coaches and the players.”
He has offers from Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Missouri, North Texas and Tulsa. Pittman, defensive coordinator Barry Odom and linebackers coach Michael Scherer represent what Pierce is looking for in a program.
“It’s pretty easy to see that with the success they are having and the coaches they have, why recruiting is going so well,” he said.
ESPN 4-star junior athlete Mikal Harrison-Pilot, 6-0, 185 pounds, of Temple, Texas, has offers from Arkansas, Texas, Oregon, Florida State, Baylor, Notre Dame and others.
“I’m keeping an eye on everything they are doing. Guys are starting to realize the potential of Arkansas,” said Harrison-Pilot, who visited Fayetteville in June and for the Texas game. “There’s no doubt i have interest in them, but I’m going to be slow in this process and make sure I make the best decision.”
Sophomore quarterback target DJ Lagway, 6-3, 210 pounds, of Willis, Texas, has offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech, Houston and others.
He visited the Hogs for the Mississippi State game and has plans to visit again.
“Yes sir, it gets my attention a lot,” Lagway said of Arkansas’ success in recruiting. “I can’t wait to come visit to see what everyone is falling in love with.”
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