There's No Days Off With Recruiting
Even before Signing Day 2015 was over with, Arkansas was making a push toward what it’s one might look like in 2016.
Razorback head coach Brett Bielema made mention during his Wednesday national signing day press conference that he had been on the phone earlier in the day with a dozen juniors.
He’s looking for the next batch of Uncommon Men, a moniker he has for his players and how they fit into his program.
His latest class of 24 signees was ranked 22nd nationally by scout.com and while he would like to have a top 10 class like anyone else - it’s not the end all, be all for him.
“I think that's what life is built around, people that go beyond what other's think they can,” Bielema said. “…I don't care what they're ranked when they come in.
“Like you know I just got off the phone with about a dozen juniors today,” Bielema added. “Some of them in-state and some of them out-of-state and they're obviously highly recruited kids. That's great.
“But it's whether they fit your program, not only athletically, but if they fit your program socially and they're really determined to have success,” Bielema continued.
Arkansas already has a pledge from Smackover junior wide receiver Jordan Jones (6-1, 170, 4.38) - who also has an offer from Alabama - and has also already offered two 2016 players in state in Star City defensive end Austin Capps (6-4, 300) and Hope defensive end McTelvin Agim (6-3, 261).
They have also showed interest in Fort Smith Northside middle linebacker Deontre Hardwick (6-2, 230), Bentonville cornerback Tyrone Mahone (6-1, 180), Prairie Grove tight end Dylan Soehner (6-7, 230), Pulaski Robinson athlete T.J. Hammonds (6-1, 190), the Pine Bluff duo of defensive end John Tate (6-4, 250) and safety David Beasley (6-3, 180) and Hot Springs running back Cleo Floyd (6-1, 190) to name a few.
It would appear the state’s high school ranks are stronger defensively next season, but it might be too early to ascertain that just yet according to Lunney.
“I don’t know if it is the strength,” Lunney said. “I think it is a little premature to say that honestly. We don’t have a lot of offers out right now at this time, but I see it as being a balanced class out there next year and I think we have to do some real thorough evaluations - even more thorough than what we have done to get further and deeper involved with a lot of these guys and determine what direction we are going to go.
“Who knows where that number is going to end up being before all is said and done,” Lunney added, “but it is another nice class of some really quality players that are going to be good college football players.”
Lunney knows it won’t be a easy go with some of the in-state juniors just as it has done been in recent years,
“You're going to get more guys getting involved in Arkansas kids,” Lunney said. “The days of those guys being under-recruited or unknown is kind of a little more rarity.
“As soon as you offer a kid it gets tweeted out there,” Lunney added. “And everybody else's recruiting department follows that and so those days have come and gone. You have to roll your sleeves up.
“You have to recruit them vigourously because they're going to get recruited by other people,” Lunney continued. “It's a full-time job in that regard.”
Arkansas landed 10 of the 11 in-state players it offered this season when he throw former Camden Fairview star and current Coffeyville, Kan. Community College wide receiver Dominique Reed (6-4, 180) in with the 2015 high school talent.
“It's not necessarily a criterion for us in recruiting, but we understand, Coach B understands the foundation of this program has alway been kinds that come from within the borders of our state,” Lunney said.
“That doesn't mean we don't have great players who are great Hogs and embrace the culture of the University of Arkansas that come from other states, because we have a lot of those guys that do and would consider this home,” Lunney added.
“But you've got to start within your own borders to identify the guys that you think are good enough to help you win games in the SEC,” Lunney continued. “And if you have them here, you have to recruit them hard and try to get them, because they are the heartbeat and foundation of the program. So we feel good about that foundation we helped build this year.”
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