The Arkansas Razorbacks haven’t had the best time in the SEC over the past few years. The Hogs have gone 19-19 in the last three seasons and 9-15 in conference play. That mark was capped off with a 1-7 mark in league play this past season, which ultimately sealed former coach Bret Bielema’s fate. Now, Chad Morris, formerly the head coach of the SMU Mustangs, has stepped into the fold in Fayetteville. And it certainly won’t be an easy trek back up to relevancy in the SEC. Especially since they’re in the vaunted SEC West.
Morris’ 2018 recruiting class isn’t all his, obviously. And we’ll get a better gauge on what he can bring in to the program for the 2019 class next season. But holding some commitments and making sure they don’t completely fall apart was a priority. With that said, Arkansas’ recruiting class for 2018 ranks 49th in the nation and 14th out of 14 in the SEC. So, when looking at their finalized recruiting class, you will have to hope that the new coaching staff in place will be able to squeeze as much as they can out of it.
Connor Noland: 4*, Pro-Style, Greenwood, AR | 341st Ovr, 14th Pos, 2nd State
John Stephen Jones: 3*, Pro-Style, Dallas, TX | N/A Ovr, 54th Pos, 243rd State
If not for inside linebacker Bumper Pool, Connor Noland would be the prize of Arkansas’ 2018 recruiting class. The 4-star pro-style quarterback, listed at 6-foot-3, 205 lbs., is an extremely solid QB prospect. He ranks 14th among all pro-style signal callers in the country and is the second-best player in the state of Arkansas. The only player ranked higher than Noland is dual-threat QB Gerry Bohanon, a Baylor Bears commit.
Elsewhere, there is John Stephen Jones. If the last name sounds familiar... well, it’s because it is. Jones is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a former Arkansas alum, of course. It was a virtual certainty that Jones was going to sign with the Hogs, so this wasn’t much of a surprise. Whether he has the chops to unseat Noland down the line is yet to be seen.
Rakeem Boyd: 3*, Independence, KS | 106th Ovr, 5th Pos, 17th State (JUCO Rankings)
Arkansas’ running back situation going forward is pretty full. Devwah Whaley and Chase Hayden figure to be toting the rock for a considerable amount of time. So, it’s not surprising that only one running back was signed. And that running back was a JUCO prospect.
Enter Rakeem Boyd. Boyd is no stranger to the SEC, as he originally enrolled at Texas A&M. He then spent a year at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas before committing to Arkansas back in January. He made the move to Fayetteville official on National Signing Day. Boyd comes into Arkansas with no career carries at the FBS level, so we’ll see what he can bring to the table if and when he sees the field.
Michael Woods: 3*, Magnolia, TX | 542nd Ovr, 91st Pos, 77th State
Much like with running back, there are plenty of wide receivers across the board going forward for the Hogs. So it’s no surprise that just one was signed for the 2018 class. That player was Michael Woods out of Magnolia, Texas. Woods, 6-foot-1, 188 lbs., is a 3-star recruit and ranks within the Top 80 in the football-rich state of Texas.
Woods will be joining a receiving corp who, like him, stand pretty high. Jonathan Nance (6-foot), Jordan Jones (6-foot-1,) Brandon Martin (6-foot-4) and LaMichael Pettway (6-foot-2) along with Deon Stewart (6-foot-1) are all aboard for next season. He shined this past season as a senior, racking up 1,018 yards on 51 catches with 15 receiving touchdowns. As a junior, he had a career-high 21 touchdowns while catching 75 passes and amassed 1,456 yards.
Noah Gatlin: 3*, Jonesboro, AR | 795th Ovr, 62nd Pos, 8th State
Ryan Winkel: 3*, Memphis, TN | N/A Ovr, 113th Pos, 37th State
Silas Robinson: 3*, Yoakum, TX | N/A Ovr, 160th Pos, 266nd State
Arkansas has had plenty of offensive line success in the past. They will certainly need to keep that positive development going forward with this group of three 3-star offensive tackles.
First comes in-state product Noah Gatlin. Gatlin, a native of Jonesboro, committed to the Hogs all the way back in June and stuck with his commitment on Signing Day. He had offers from the Arizona State Sun Devils, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa State Cyclones and Mississippi State Bulldogs. But, he chose to play for his home state Razorbacks. He checks in at 6-foot-7, 300 lbs., so he’s definitely got the size and physique to stand out at offensive tackle.
Then there’s Ryan Winkel and Silas Robinson. Both Winkel and Robinson are three-stars as well, the former hailing from Memphis and the other hailing from Yoakum, Texas. Yoakum is a small town of 5,815, located roughly 100 miles east of San Antonio. The coach of the Rice Owls baseball team, Wayne Graham, is among its most notable natives. Anywho, both Winkel and Robinson are not listed on the overall 247Sports Composite Rankings, but they each rank 113th and 160th in the nation at their position. Arkansas will hope to groom each of these two into studs going forward.
Isaiah Nichols: 3* SDE, Springdale, AR | 818th Ovr, 39th Pos, 9th State
Dorian Gerald: 3* SDE, Valencia, CA | 27th Ovr, 1st Pos, 5th State (JUCO Rankings)
Billy Ferrell: 3* DT, Fordyce, AR | 525th Ovr, 37th Pos, 5th State
Courtre Alexander: 3* WDE, Owasso, OK | 751st Ovr, 45th Pos, 13th State
Nick Fulwider: 3* SDE, Tyrone, GA | 759th Ovr, 33rd Pos, 77th State
Arkansas beefed up their defensive line in a big way in this class, signing four defensive ends and one defensive tackle. This position group is the biggest amongst all of the ones signed on to the Hogs’ 2018 class. And while there is no one ranked higher than 525th at the highest school level, there is an impact player in this group on the JUCO level.
That player is Dorian Gerald. Gerald, a native of South Carolina, played at the College of the Canyons out in Valencia, California. He originally committed to the Tennessee Volunteers, but decommitted later on in 2017. He would wind up choosing Arkansas over the Texas A&M Aggies, and that should prove to be a coup for Morris and defensive coordinator John Chavis. He is one of the top JUCO defensive ends in the nation. Actually, he’s the BEST DE in the nation on the JUCO circuit. He ranks fifth among all JUCO players in California and 27th overall. His time in Fayetteville will be short, but watch out for this kid going forward.
Meanwhile, the other four players in this group will hope to have their potential tapped into. The best of the bunch is defensive tackle Billy Ferrell. Ferrell, listed at 6-foot-3, 331 lbs., ranks 525th overall in the class of 2018. He also ranks fifth in the state of Arkansas, as the Fordyce native finds himself in the company of the aforementioned Connor Noland, Gerry Bohanaon, Sean Michael Flanagan (Oklahoma State Cowboys) and Luke Jones (Notre Dame Fighting Irish). Elsewhere, there is Courtre Alexander, Nick Fulwider and Isaiah Nichols. Fulwider is a lengthy dude, listed at 6-foot-7 as he enters his freshman season at Arkansas. The others, Alexander and Nichols, are both listed at 6-foot-4.
Bumper Pool: 4* ILB, Lucas, TX | 339th Ovr, 18th Pos, 44th State
Andrew Parker: 3* ILB, New Orleans, LA | N/A Ovr, 63rd Pos, 65th State
The top player in Arkansas’ class is also perhaps one of the best names out there, too. That, of course, being Bumper Pool. Pool, listed at 6-foot-2.5 and 213 lbs., is an inside linebacker out of Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas. Pool ranks 18th among all ILBs in the 2018 cycle and 44th in the state of Texas. The 339th overall prospect in 2018 is the second four-star player in Arkansas’ class alongside quarterback Connor Noland, and is listed by 247Sports Composite as the top player in the group by just 0.0001 over Noland. Talk about splitting hairs.
There is also Andrew Parker, a 3-star inside linebacker out of New Orleans. Parker racked up 107 total tackles and 26 TFL in the 2017 season, with three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Parker, who attended Sophie B. Wright High School, boasted offers from the Ole Miss Rebels, Texas Longhorns, TCU Horned Frogs and Texas A&M Aggies over the past year. But, after originally committing last January, Parker decided to stick with his choice even amidst the coaching change when he signed on NSD with the Hogs.
Myles Mason: 3* S, Trussville, AL | 431st Ovr, 29th Pos, 13th State
Ladarrius Bishop: 3* CB, Ashdown, AR | 579th Ovr, 53rd Pos, 6th State
Joseph Foucha: 3* S, New Orleans, LA | 606th Ovr, 42nd Pos, 25th State
Chad Morris got three defensive backs to sign with Arkansas this year, with two of them being safeties. Those being Myles Mason out of Trussville, Alabama and Joseph Foucha out of New Orleans. Mason is the best of the three-man group here, ranking 431st overall in the class of 2018. He ranks 13th in the state of Alabama and 29th at his position.
The Hewitt-Trussville graduate is listed at 6-foot-2, 205 lbs. as he comes into college, which is pretty good size for a safety prospect. He was previously committed to Mississippi State, but chose instead to play in Fayetteville over Starkville.
The other safety is New Orleans native Joseph Foucha. Foucha, standing in at 5-foot-10.5 and 194 lbs., had been eying the SEC, having visited Auburn, an Alabama camp and LSU as well as Ole Miss and Arkansas, of course. Ultimately, Morris was able to wrangle Foucha into town on Signing Day when he decided to become a Hog.
The lone cornerback of the bunch is Ladarrius Bishop. Bishop, a native of Arkansas, is the sixth-ranked player in the state, falling just outside of the Top 5. The Ashdown native, like Mason, was originally committed to Mississippi State but flipped to Arkansas back in December. He made the move official on NSD to become a Razorback, a big win for Morris certainly since he’d been targeted by Bret Bielema before he was let go.