November 12, 2012

Offensive recruit review







Arkansas is holding steady at 16 commitments for the Class of 2013, and the next head coach will be responsible for filling the remaining needs before National Signing Day in February.

The current staff did a remarkable job of getting the class to this point despite everything that's gone on in Fayetteville since April 1. Opposing coaches have tried to take advantage of the Hogs' uncertainty, but only one prospect, safety Dominique Alexander of Tulsa (Okla.) Washington, has chosen to back out of his commitment since the spring. (Truth be told, Alexander probably would have flipped to Oklahoma after receiving an offer from the Sooners regardless of what Arkansas' coaching situation looked like.)

Now the focus turns to keeping the current commits on board long enough for a hire to be made, and then sending the new staff out to fill the rest of the spots. There's still work to be done on both sides of the ball, but here's a closer look at where the offensive class stands as of today and what should be expected over the next couple of months:

Quarterback

The Hogs need two quarterbacks in this year's class and they were fortunate to land a couple of good ones early on.

Three-star Austin Allen, 6-1, 217, 4.7, of Fayetteville (Ark.) committed in May, turning down offers from Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and several others. Allen has thrown for 30 touchdowns to just three interceptions and is just shy of 3,000 yards going into Fayetteville's first playoff game this week. He is the son of current UA assistant Bobby Allen and the little brother to Arkansas redshirt-freshman quarterback Brandon Allen. Allen will play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in January.

Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage senior Tyler Cogswell, 6-5, 230, chose the Razorbacks over Nebraska, Central Michigan, Florida International, Hawaii and South Alabama. Cogswell has passed for 22 touchdowns to just one interception on the year. He and the Patriots are 9-1 heading into their opening playoff game against 5-4 Jackson High this Friday. Cogswell, who has been to Fayetteville on four or five unofficial visits since giving his pledge, plans to take his official to Arkansas in December before playing in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Houston.

Both quarterbacks are as solid as they can be to Arkansas, but one name to keep on the back burner in case something changes is Tahlequah (Okla.) Sequoyah's Brayden Scott, who has been committed to Memphis since June. Scott grew up in northwest Arkansas and has several family ties to the Razorback program.

Running Back

The Razorbacks went into the season thinking they would lose three veterans at the end of the year, but has that changed now that junior Knile Davis has suffered through a very disappointing season?

Either way, the Hogs already have one commitment at this position and they'd love to gain a second by flipping North Little Rock (Ark.) senior Altee Tenpenny, who remains committed to Alabama.

If Arkansas' next staff is able to land Tenpenny, he'll be joining Denham Springs (La.) running back Kaleb Blanchard in making this a strength of the class. Blanchard, 6-0, 215, 4.4, bounced back from last year's injury-plagued season by rushing for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. His team was eliminated from the Louisiana 5A state playoffs this past week. Blanchard plans to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in December.

Blanchard is one of Arkansas' most solid commitments in this class. According to Blanchard, LSU said in July that he would have an offer from the Tigers if he skipped Arkansas' camp for theirs, but he chose to attend the camp in Fayetteville and remain firm in his pledge to the Hogs.

One prospect to keep a close eye on over the next couple of months is Osceola (Ark.) running back Korliss Marshall, 6-0, 185, 4.4. If Arkansas' next staff can't flip Tenpenny, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see them extend a scholarship to Marshall, who has said he'd probably commit on the spot if offered. Marshall's recruitment got off to a slow start for non-football reasons, but he has taken care of business and placed himself in a position to make a lot of noise down the stretch.

Wide Receiver

Arkansas has two commits at this position and is likely to add one more between now and February.

Jervenski Johnson Amite (La.) was unknown before he attended the Hogs' camp in June, but after running a few routes for offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, the 6-4, 190-pounder had earned a scholarship offer that he would commit to a few hours later. Johnson took an unofficial visit to LSU on Saturday but said the Tigers don't appear to be ready to offer. He said even if they do, he's solid to Arkansas. Johnson chose the Hogs over an offer from UAB.

The Razorbacks also have Frisco (Texas) Centennial speedster Lamar Jordan, 5-11, 182, 4.38, in the fold. Jordan plays quarterback for Centennial and has piled up 2,278 yards and 29 touchdowns so far this season for the 9-1 Titans. Arkansas plans to use him as a wide receiver. His sister also attended the U of A.

Arkansas' current staff is in very good shape to land Frankfort (Ky.) Franklin County receiver Ryan Timmons, who made an official trip to Fayetteville for the Rutgers game in September. The 5-11, 180-pounder has 4.4 speed and holds offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Purdue, West Virginia and several others. Ohio State is also very much in the mix but the Buckeyes haven't extended an offer. Another one to keep in mind is Arkansas State commit Drew Morgan of Greenwood (Ark.). The next head coach may do what Bobby Petrino did with Tyler Wilson in 2008 and decide to extend a late offer to Greenwood's star performer.

The Razorbacks may choose to bring in another junior college receiver in this year's class to help ease the sting of losing All-SEC performer Cobi Hamilton. The Hogs brought in a total of five players at this position in 2012.

Offensive Line

Out of all the remaining needs left on Arkansas' list, this is the biggest. The Hogs brought in two last year but both are interior linemen. The current numbers say they probably need to bring in five this year.

The Razorbacks currently have two offensive line commits and both are from the junior college ranks. Corsicana (Texas) Navarro College's Mitchell Bell, 6-4, 320, 5.1, chose the Hogs over Kansas, Washington State, New Mexico and Grambling State. He has three years to play two and plans to join his new team in January.

John McClure, 6-4, 310, of Butler College in El Dorado (Kan.) committed to Arkansas three-and-a-half weeks ago and also plans to be on campus at midterm. He is a former Kansas State walk-on who earned Junior College All-American honors last season. Butler, which is in the NJCAA national championship game this season, doesn't inform its players of all their offers until after the season, so it's hard to say exactly who all Arkansas beat for his services. McClure will have two years to play two.

The Hogs are still in decent shape with junior college offensive linemen Zachary Fondal (Bell's teammate at Navarro) and Josiah St. John. One prep offensive lineman to keep an eye on over the next month or so is Nebraska commit Zach Hannon of Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst. The 6-5, 300-pounder has said he still plans to take an official visit to Arkansas after the coaching staff questions are answered.

Tight End

This is the position that has Arkansas fans holding their breath right now. The Hogs have two current commitments but both are still being chased by other SEC powerhouse programs.

Deondre Skinner, 6-3, 220, 4.6, of Patterson (La.) also visited the in-state Tigers' game on Saturday, but said Sunday evening that he's still firm to Arkansas and is just "enjoying the games." LSU offered Skinner after seeing him in a camp this summer. Texas A&M, Arizona State, Mississippi State have also offered. Skinner was selected to play in the Offense-Defense All-American bowl with Cogswell and Blanchard.

Hunter Henry, 6-6, 240, of Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy is Arkansas' only four-star commit, and he's still in talks with schools such as Alabama, Georgia, Stanford and others. Henry visited Alabama over the weekend and may take other trips over the next few weeks. His plan is to keep his options open until Arkansas makes its next hire. Henry was selected as an Under Armour All-American and he plans to play in the postseason bowl game in January.

The tight end position is a little different than some in that most teams either use them a lot or very little in the passing game. Skinner and Henry are still committed, but Arkansas' next coach will need a proven track record of throwing to tight ends if he wants to keep them both.



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