Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Hogs will take this recruiting class
Quincy Rhodes puts on a hat after signing with Arkansas during a ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in North Little Rock.
Apparently, all the talk and concern about Name, Image and Likeness was not a major influence on the 2023 recruiting class, at least not overall.
Or the great recruiters combined with success still were the big winners.
Or maybe the great programs got in front of the NIL early.
Whatever the case, the No. 1 and 2 schools in recruiting this year were Alabama and Georgia.
They are the power in the powerhouse known as the SEC, although just a sidebar warning, watch out for Texas A&M and Auburn. Bobby Petrino will make the Aggies’ offense 25-30% better, and Hugh Freeze will turn the Tigers around quickly.
When teams start to go up, someone has to go down.
It doesn’t appear that Arkansas will be declining. Its recruiting class was solid.
It ranked No. 22 in the nation, and while that was No. 8 in the SEC, this was apparently not the greatest of recruiting classes in Arkansas, which produced only four SEC players, and three of those will be Razorbacks. Missouri signed an athlete from Pine Bluff.
Sam Pittman and company addressed some needs with this recruiting class, signing five defensive backs out of 20 high school signees.
They also signed four offensive and defensive linemen and three receivers, leaving room for one quarterback, one running back, one linebacker and one special teams player.
There’s no need getting into transfers today because that seems like a never-ending process. Arkansas had 24 players transfer, many of them upon suggestion from the coaches and only a very few ended up at Power 5 schools.
Pittman intentionally left some scholarships open for future opportunities as did most of the SEC schools.
Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State signed at least 25 players, leaving little wiggle room to get into the portal any time soon.
Those were the five most successful programs last season.
Lane Kiffin, who has become a master at getting transfers, signed only 15 at Ole Miss, and he’s got at least two quarterbacks transferring into a spot that returns its starter.
Like Arkansas. the Rebels saw a bunch of guys leave after the season, including an offensive lineman to Arkansas State, which had the top recruiting class in the Sun Belt Conference.
As for ranking the recruiting classes, Alabama was clearly No. 1, but joining the Tide and Bulldogs in the top 10 were LSU at No. 6 and Tennessee at No. 9.
Another sidebar: Texas and Oklahoma, which are on their way to the SEC, were Nos. 3 and 4 respectively. The Longhorns signed five 5-star players, including the top quarterback and No. 1 recruit in the country, Arch Manning, who got a $3 million NIL deal.
Texas also signed 13 4-star players, while the Sooners signed three 5-star and 14 4-star players.
The next wave of SEC teams is Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Auburn at rankings of No. 14-17. After the Hogs at No. 22 came No. 25 Mississippi State, No. 27 Ole Miss, No. 31 Kentucky, No. 33 Missouri and No. 52 Vanderbilt.
There were only 32 players considered 5-star recruits this year, and 20 of them signed with SEC schools. Alabama had 9, Georgia 5, LSU and A&M 2 each and Tennessee and Ole Miss each had 1.
On top of that, the league signed 144 4-star players. Vandy signed just one of those and Mississippi State four. Everyone else signed more.
The Razorbacks signed eight 4-star players and two were homegrown.
Arkansas’ haul came from nine states, with Texas leading the way with five new Razorbacks.
All things considered, it appears this was a good recruiting class for the Razorbacks.
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