Connor Noland (© Student Sports)

Kirk's Korner: What a week for Bret Bielema, Arkansas Razorbacks recruiting

Arkansas has had a great week recruiting and an outstanding start to the Class of 2018,

The two recruiting visitors to Arkansas this week both pulled the trigger on a commitment once they got home. The two talked it over with their family and cast their lot with Bret Bielema and the Hogs.

This is by far the best start to a recruiting class for Bielema at Arkansas. All four of these prospects were sought by the big dogs of college football recruiting. Three of the four are 4-stars and the other may very well be when the dust settles.

It's not just the four commitments are highly rated and sought by the bigger schools, it's also the locations they are coming from. For instance, Bielema, E.K. Franks and Barry Lunney Jr. as well as the rest of the staff have done a great job keeping kids at home. They have done that with Greenwood (Ark.) 4-star quarterback Connor Noland. Dave Van Horn and his staff also played a role in this one as he is a two-sport commitment to the Hogs. Lunney has had an in with the Noland family for awhile. He and Frank Noland, Connor's father, played in the 1985 Sebastian County Pony League.

The Hogs also need to recruit Texas since they are so close to that state. The Lone Star State is loaded with talent and yes it's heavily recruited, but in the SEC and being this close to the state it's just a natural the Hogs should do well particularly in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. That's where DeSoto 4-star athlete BJ Hanspard and Lucas Lovejoy 4-star linebacker Bumper Pool are from.

Getting those two on board this early can't do anything but help with efforts there for others in Texas. Paul RhoadsVernon HargreavesReggie Mitchell and Chad Walker are among the coaches hitting the state hard. Kurt Anderson is recruiting offensive linemen from there as well. The Hogs have 21 reported offers out in Texas and all of them are to outstanding talents. That is the most offers reported to any state.

They have 20 in Florida, 14 in Louisiana and 12 in Georgia according to the 247Sports recruiting database. Those three states plus Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma have to be states the Hogs have success in. In addition since Bielema got to Arkansas the Hogs have done a good job of pulling a prospect or two a year out of the Big Ten area.

Carterville (Ill.) 3-star tight end Luke Ford is the latest from that area. He joins such talents as Frank Ragnow (Minnesota), Jake Heinrich (Iowa), Dalton Wagner (Illinois) and Jeremy Patton (Indiana via Arizona Western Junior College) with the Hogs. Even Hjalte Froholdt played his sophomore season in Ohio.

Michael Smith has done a marvelous job in Louisiana and that will continue. The Hogs are on some key prospects in that state as well. John Scott Jr. drew praise from Bielema on Wednesday for the job he has done in recruiting. He will hit Georgia hard. Hargreaves leads the effort in Florida. As noted Anderson is all over the map finding offensive linemen. Dan Enos takes quarterback recruiting and helps with any offensive prospect. He has done an excellent job with Lunney on Noland. Rhoads also plays a big role with any defensive recruit.

The guy who organizes the entire thing and proves there is a method to this mind-boggling madness called recruiting is Franks. This past recruiting season when the Hogs lost a couple of coaches, Franks even jumped out on the road and made some strong impressions with recruits. Both Kamren Curl's family and Melvin Johnson praised Frank's efforts. Others were impressed as well with him.

The question is always who is next? It appears it will be an offensive player and a defensive player and both are from the states listed where the Hogs have to do well to be successful. A lot will depend on when them and others make unofficial visits to see the Hogs. Both the prospects expected to commit at some point have made unofficial visits last year to Fayetteville. Both have a very long list of offers.

In the Class of 2017, Arkansas got a better class than it was ranked. Several prospects including Curl, Koilan JacksonMaleek Barkley and others deserved to be ranked higher. But in 2018 it appears the Hogs are getting prospects that not only the colleges know about as evidenced by their early offers, but also the recruiting services like them as well.

Noland has said the Class of 2018 will be a special one. It appears he may be more than just a great quarterback and pitcher. He appears to be a good predictor of the future as well. If the Hogs are successful as it appears they will be, Noland and Pool deserve a lot of credit as well. They are working like seldom seen from recruits to get other prospects to Arkansas with them. That not only speaks well of their effort and talent, but of Bielema's desire to recruit kids with high character. No doubt he is 4-for-4 in that category thus far in this class.


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