The Fro Officially Lands In Fayetteville

Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema officially announces the addition of Florida prep offensive lineman Jalen Merrick (6-5, 310), one of eight scholarship and 10 overall mid-term enrollees the Razorbacks will have in the 2015 recruiting class.

For those thinking Arkansas might shy away from Florida with the loss of linebacker Randy Shannon to the Gators, you might want to think again.

Razorback head football coach Bret Bielema said as much Tuesday morning while announcing the official signing of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., four-star offensive lineman Jalen Merrick (6-5, 310).

Merrick, who chose Arkansas over Florida State and Florida among numerous other offers, is one of four Florida prospects among the eight scholarship mid-term enrollees now on campus in Fayetteville.

“We are thrilled to welcome another Florida Hog into the Razorback family,” said Bielema. “We cannot wait to see how Jalen’s athleticism will improve our offensive line when he joins us this spring. “Jalen comes from a great family and will be an excellent addition to our team on and off the field,” Bielema added. “We are excited to bring his contagious personality and outstanding afro to Fayetteville!”

The other Florida prospects are Jacksonville University Christian offensive lineman Josh Allen (6-3, 305), Bradenton IMG Academy and Denmark-born defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt (6-5, 290) and Hutchinson, Kan., Community College defensive end and Florida native Jeremiah Ledbetter (6-4, 281).

That group joins Charleston quarterback Ty Storey (6-3, 215), Dumas tight end Will Gragg (6-4, 245), Fort Smith Northside defensive end Daytrieon Dean (6-3, 263) and Carrollton, Texas, Hebron center Zach Rogers (6-3, 300) as new Razorbacks that have arrived this month.

Arkansas - whose class is currently ranked 17th nationally by, has also added a pair of walk on mid-term enrollees in former Pine Bluff kicker/punter Austin McGehee (6-1, 215) and IMG Academy safety Reid Miller (5-11, 190).

It’s obvious that the recent trend in college football is to get as many players on campus as soon as possible and Arkansas is getting in on it with its 10 early enrollees.

There were a record 162 to do so at BCS schools in 2013 with 61 of 73 Big 5 conference schools taking advantage of the trend.

That mark will surely be exceeded with the 2015 class.

Tennessee had a whopping 14 enroll at mid-semester in January of 2014 will have 10 do so this year.

Clemson may be this year’s biggest winner with 15 that enrolled in early January.

Georgia and South Carolina will have eight, Alabama is welcoming in seven, LSU six, Mississippi State and Ole Miss five, Auburn five and Texas A&M three.

“(It’s) huge,” Bielema said. “First you get an understanding of how we do things. From how we behave in our meetings to the way we take the field. Some of you who have watched our practices there are a lot of things not directed by me.

“Like when we start music they know that means we go to flex,” Bielema added. “When I hear a certain horn blow I don't have to say anything. They know that transitions into field goal. It's not a natural thing. You have to kind of learn it. So that part is there.

“And also just to be in the meeting room with your position coach and hear the terms, the phrases, the words - the Hoganese - that we talk about,” Bielema continued. “I remember growing up we all had to hear things a couple of times before we got it right and I think that's the same thing as a football player.”

Bielema is currently in the market for a new linebacker coach.

“I think it would be beneficial for us and the path I am going down first is to find a great linebacker coach that can fit in our system that can recruit the state of Florida,” Bielema said. “That would be ideal if I could pinpoint it.”

Jalen Merrick

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