Arkansas signs 23

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson gives his take on the 24 players signed Wednesday by the University of Arkansas.<br><br> This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is an offer on the their website. Click on a banner for details.<br><br>

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What looks good to some, may not appeal as much to others.

Kind like of your baby. It may be the most beautiful thing in the world to you, but your friends might run away in fright when they get the chance.

That's works for several things, including college football recruiting.

Take for example the fact that you can have a recruiting class that is top 20 or top 30 in the country, one that is better than three-fourths of the other college football programs in the United States.

That would be enough for some schools to be turning backflips, slapping each other high fives and talking about the future.

And that's what should be happening.

But if you play in the SEC, you are always fighting an uphill battle to have the class dubbed a great one since everybody there are eight other programs piling in that top 30 or so as well nationally.

A quick glance at the recruiting rankings after the University of Arkansas haul of 24 players on Wednesday showed them stacking up quiet nicely nationally.

One service had them as high as 21, another as the 23rd best class and yet another had them coming in 33rd. They'll all be adjusted no doubt before being finalized.

Breaking that down even further, they were ranked anywhere from fifth to ninth in the SEC.

The University of Arkansas coaching staff is happy about its haul. You can easily answer that they are always happy, but they have some solid reasons to be this year.

First and foremost to be consider is Tulsa Booker T. Washington tailback Felix Jones (6-0, 195, 4.4), a young man who rushed for 2,500 yards and an amazing 48 touchdowns, chose Arkansas over Tennessee and Texas A&M at the proverbial 11th hour.

That put a topper on a solid class and solidified what has to be considered the best back-to-back classes brought in during Houston Nutt's tenure at Arkansas.

Don't get me wrong. I certainly think it could have been better if either Duke Robinson (Oklahoma) or Antonio Forbes (Alabama) had decided to be Razorbacks. There were a few other misses along the way, but Arkansas certainly landed more of the ones it targeted than they lost.

Jones negates the loss of Roy Upchuch and teams with Parade All-American Darren McFadden (6-1, 205, 4.33) of Pulaski Oak Grove, Tallahassee (Fla.) Rickards tailback Michael Smith (5-9, 180, 4.4) and Texarkana running back Brandon Barnett (5-9, 188, 4.38) to form one of the best backfield classes ever signed here.

The class also filled need areas on the offensive and defensive lines, the safety spots and at linebacker, although it is correct to note that the Razorback staff were looking to add an older player in a couple of those spots.

It brings speed, speed and more speed to the table, something that is a must to compete in this league.

Likely going into this week, you had your mind made up on whether you were going to be happy with this class or not. A lot of that had to do likely with whether you are enamored with the head coach or not. Maybe the last two or three could have moved you slightly, but most of you had your mind made up already.

I pretty much did. To each his own.

The UA staff used a 2 p.m. press conference on Wednesday to introduce the 24 new signees, which is the vast majority of the young men that will be first-year players for the Razorbacks next season.

However that class - and the rankings - doesn't include guys like LSU transfer linebacker Matt Stoltz (6-2, 235, 4.6) or quarterback Cole Barthel (6-2, 200, 4.5), who has spent the last four years playing baseball for the Atlanta Braves minor league organization after originally signing with Arkansas.

Arkansas will also benefit from storing some of its 2004 class in the deep freeze with a redshirt on such as Marc Winston, Cedric Logan, Michael Tate, Earnest Mitchell - great recruiting wins from a year ago,

Is this year's better than last year's class?

Ask me in about three years or so. That - in my eyes - is the only read way to take in its beauty.

One thing is for certain, though, That's Arkansas is already off and running on its 2006 class - one expected to include old signees such as Rodney Giles and Freddie Barnett.

That spent the day calling juniors, trying to make an impression for next year.

Because while Wednesday was the last day or one class, it was just the beginning of another.

One that will once again be judged solely by the beholder.

Arkansas signees:

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