Arkansas had to wait a couple days after National Signing Day for one last decision to close out its 2018 recruiting class. Their patience was rewarded. The No. 1 junior college defensive end, Dorian Gerald (6’2 260, 22 sacks in 2 seasons), chose Arkansas over Florida, Texas A&M, and others.
With Gerald’s addition, that made 17 commits for Chad Morris’ initial Arkansas recruiting class.
I would give the class a “C-plus” grade overall.
The two priorities Morris most needed to accomplish with this class was finding defensive studs to improve the weakest part of the team from a year ago and grab as many prospects as he could in Texas. With the shortened timetable Morris had to work with, he accomplished both goals.
Ten of the 17 commits are on defense and l am pleasantly surprised with the caliber of talent Morris and his staff was able to bring in. Like I’ve written before, John Chavis’ defenses he needs athleticism and speed on the defensive line and in the secondary. Three defensive backs and five defensive linemen were signed to this class.
Five of these recruits came from the state of Texas which will be a good start for Chad Morris. I expect in the ’19 and ’20 classes that Arkansas will sign eight to 12 players from Texas per year. Establishing a talent pipeline from Texas to Fayetteville IS the key for Arkansas’s success going forward. The Razorbacks can’t compete for the SEC West title without bringing in top talent from the Lone Star State.
Now, don’t be discouraged that most of the Razorbacks’ newest players are rated as three-star prospects because oftentimes, three-star athletes turn out to be game-changers and all-conference players. I think there are a few jewels in this class like Connor Noland, Dorian Gerald, and Myles Mason.
Time will tell how they they’ll fit and mesh in Arkansas’ scheme.
Overall, this class is what it is, but in no way should Arkansas fans be upset about the outcome this year. The spots were limited, and they made the absolute best with the time they had. So a C+ is where the ’18 class stands and I expect Morris to earn a much higher grade for ’19 and ’20.
Here’s a look at the complete class, with star-ranking:
**** (ILB) Bumper Pool [6’2.5, 213lbs – Lovejoy, TX]
**** (QB) Connor Noland [6’3, 205lbs – Greenwood, AR]
*** (WR) Michael Woods [6’1, 188lbs – Magnolia, TX]
*** (DE) Isaiah Nichols [6’4, 275lbs – Springdale, AR]
*** (S) Myles Mason [6’2, 205lbs – Trussville, AL]
*** (CB) Ladarrius Bishop [6’0, 189lbs – Ashdown, AR]
*** (DT) Billy Ferrell [6’3, 331lbs – Fordyce, AR]
*** (DE-JUCO) Dorian Gerald [6’3, 260lbs – Valencia, CA] – Florence, SC
*** (S) Joseph Foucha [5’10.5, 194lbs – New Orleans, LA]
*** (DE) Courtre Alexander [6’4, 260lbs – Owasso, OK]
*** (DE) Nick Fulwider [6’7, 249lbs – Tyrone, GA]
*** (OT) Noah Gatlin [6’7, 300lbs – Jonesboro, AR]
*** (RB JUCO) Rakeem Boyd [5’11, 200lbs – Independence, KS] – Houston, TX
*** (OT) Ryan Winkel [6’6, 286lbs – Memphis, TN]
*** (ILB) Andrew Parker [6’2, 225lbs – New Orleans, LA]
*** (QB) John Stephen Jones [5’10, 175 – Dallas, TX]
*** (OT) Silas Robinson [6’4, 300lbs – Yoakum, TX]
(You can follow Jacob Parker on Twitter @jaccubparker)
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