Arkansas heads to Tennessee this weekend with 15 commits and possibly only three to seven more sports because of great retention in its last few classes.
What is left on the table?
Quite simply Arkansas’ stated intent is it wants to land a pair of offensive tackles, a pair of running backs and then the best players available with whatever scholarships are left over.
Bielema made it clear during preseason that he wanted to land more offensive tackles and linebackers, the latter of which he has two committed in the 2016 class.
“The key challenge in recruiting is go out and find the best player that fits your program and that’s not just on the field and off,” Bielema said.
“We are certainly not where we want to be at this point in terms of depth at certain positions, but we are getting there and that’s one thing I am certain of.”
Bielema and Tennessee’s Butch Jones are two coaches that are both in their third years at their current school.
Both have certainly added to their talent level since arriving with Arkansas having now over doubled its number of four-star athletes (25) that were on the roster (9) before Bielema arrived.
Arkansas also recently added a 5-star defensive end commit in Hope’s McTelvin Agim (6-3, 270), a Texas-born standout who is just one of many athletes that will play in this Saturday’s game that had offers from both schools.
“We compete against Tennessee a lot in recruiting,” said Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. “Butch and I have a lot of the same philosophies of people you go after. Their roster, I’m sure when they’re going through ours there is a lot of kids that we both commonly recruited on both our rosters.”
Both turned their teams around from subpar rookie years – Arkansas was 3-9 and Tennessee 5-7 in 2013 – into 7-6 campaigns in 2014 that included bowl wins by large margins.
It was thought that both programs were on the verge of big breakthroughs this season, but that has not happened to this point.
It’s no secret that Bielema has adopted a philosophy of recruiting what he calls uncommon men.
Where did that catchphrase come from – one that seems popular when Arkansas wins, but is used to bash him when he doesn’t?
Bielema read the book Uncommon by former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, which talks about the lessons that Dungy has learned and is also a book that focuses on what it means to be a man of significance in a culture that is offering young men few positive role models.
He used the term right off the bat at his Arkansas introductory press conference.
“We will recruit uncommon men here,” Bielema said. “We will recruit men that are held to higher standards. I don’t want people to be normal. I want them to be uncommon.”
Jones talked about what he looks for in a football player besides the obvious talent.
“It’s all about your style of play, but it starts first and foremost with recruiting individuals that have great competitive character and it is important for them – they need football in their life and they love to compete,” Jones said, “especially when you are building a program.
“You are trying to nine strong at all position groups and you need competition and you want individuals that embrace competition on a daily basis. That’s how everyone improves.”