The stage is set for one of the biggest football recruiting weekends in Fayetteville in a long time.
Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema and his staff will host some 12-15 prospects this weekend that could bolster an already solid 2016 recruiting class.
It will be the conclusion of a week in which Bielema used his appearance on the SEC Network during the national title game to his advantage in recruiting.
"The No. 1 reason I do it is for promotion of our program … We had the pregame show, and then I had about an hour and a half, and I found a little table outside of where we were going to do the film room, and I just sat there and I had every kid that was committed to us and our top 12 prospects, and I messaged everyone of those kids,” Bielema said.
“… I probably had over 170 dialogues with recruits sitting right there in the stadium, taking pictures and sending it to them. So the value of that in recruiting, you can't even describe it. It was more than I could even imagine. So it was really, really positive in that way.”
Arkansas was expected to only have about 18 scholarships in this class at one time, but some transition, early graduates and the fact that three Razorbacks in Alex Collins, Hunter Henry and Denver Kirkland have put their name in the NFL draft has opened up some spots.
Bielema hopes to have the same type success with this current 16-member class, which is currently ranked No. 31 in the country by Scout.com and is likely to have 24 to 25 on national signing date of Feb. 3.
“I remember that class wasn’t all that highly regarded in the SEC, but had a national ranking that was third maybe, somewhere in the 30s, somewhere in there,” Bielema said.
“But it is not what you have when you walk in, it is what you have when you walk out and I think those guys proved their worth.”
The Razorbacks hope to get some positives late from the hiring of dynamic new offensive line coach Kurt Anderson away from the Buffalo Bills.
“I reached out to three high school coaches that he had recruited players and asked why they went there," Bielema said. "I got the same response. Over prepared, great work ethic, honest, integrity, just all the things you could ask for in a recruiter.
“He will be very dynamic. As you know I don’t hire resumes, I hire people. I really don’t care what the outside world feels. I go by what I feel and what I see. He checked off in every category.”
Bielema currently has nine offensive players committed and seven defenders pledged and hopes to have a class that includes 12 on both sides of the ball and possibly one coach’s discretion that could be used for either.
The list of prospects expected in this weekend include a quartet of commitments in wide receiver Kofi Boateng (6-3, 180) of Arlington, Texas, Lamar, offensive lineman Jake Heinrich (6-4, 280) of Urbandale, Iowa, defensive lineman Briston Guidry (6-3, 270) of Metairie, La., Archbishop Rummel and linebacker De’Jon Harris (6-1, 238) of Marrero, La., John Ehret.
Guidry is currently scheduled to visit Oklahoma next weekend and Harris is set to trek to Alabama.
Arkansas is hosting one of the nation’s top receivers in wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (6-3, 190) of Houston, Texas.
The Razorback staff also will host a pair of cornerbacks in Eric Cuffee of Waco, Texas and Kristian Fulton of Metairie, La., Archbishop Rummel
Several other defenders are scheduled for trrips to the UA in safety Calvin Bundage (6-3, 200) of Edmond, Okla., Santa Fe, safety Brandon Jones (6-0, 195) of Nacogdoches, Texas and linebacker Giovanni LaFrance (6-1, 239) of New Orleans St. Augustine.
Arkansas is also currently set to host some five prospects on the final recruiting weekend of Jan. 29-31.
Those include Katy, Texas, tailback Kyle Porter (5-10, 190), Scranton, Pa., Lackawanna Community College linebacker Kapri Doucet (6-3, 233), Silsbee, Texas offensive lineman Patrick Hudson (6-5, 330) San Bernardino Valley, Calif., CC offensive lineman Paul Martinez (6-7, 295) and cornerback Joseph Putu (6-2, 197) of North Dakota State College of Science.