Sam Pittman secured another member of the heralded crop of in-state 2024 recruits when CJ Brown announced his commitment to Arkansas football on Thursday.
The wide receiver from Bentonville chose the Razorbacks over fellow finalists Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. He also had offers from Kansas State, Louisville, Purdue and others.
Considering he goes to high school just up the road from Fayetteville, it wasn’t a particularly shocking decision, but the timing was a bit of a surprise. He had been scheduled to officially visit Oklahoma State this past weekend and Kansas State next weekend, but ultimately made up his mind before either trip.
Brown attended a camp at Arkansas last summer, but it wasn’t until Jan. 21 that the Razorbacks extended an offer. They then hosted him a couple times this spring before his official visit on the first weekend of June.
That came after a breakout junior campaign in which he caught 75 passes for 1,284 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading Bentonville to a runner-up finish in the Arkansas Class 7A playoffs.
He is the 12th player in the Class of 2024 to commit to Arkansas football, but that number includes defensive tackle Dion Stutts, who tragically died in an ATV accident last week.
Check out the junior year highlights of Arkansas football commit CJ Brown:
Updated Look at 2024 In-State Class
Three of the Razorbacks commitments for 2024 hail from the Natural State, as CJ Brown joins Little Rock Mills defensive end Charleston Collins and Pine Bluff wide receiver Courtney Crutchfield.
That’s already equal to how many in-state players Arkansas signed in the last cycle, which was believed to be an all-time low. That group featured Ashdown tight end Shamar Easter, Bentonville offensive lineman Joey Su’a and North Little Rock defensive end Quincy Rhodes Jr.
If Sam Pittman gets his way, the Razorbacks will blow past that number when the next signing day rolls around, as it’s a particularly strong year for in-state recruiting.
They missed out on Little Rock Christian four-star quarterback Walker White, who’s committed to Auburn, but they’re still in the mix for Benton running back Braylen Russell, Valley View linebacker Brian Huff, Harding Academy linebacker Wyatt Simmons and Fort Smith Southside offensive lineman Kobe Branham.
Where those four players end up remains to be seen, but each of them will almost certainly end up at a Power Five program. Throw in Fayetteville quarterback Drake Lindsey, who’s committed to Minnesota, and that’s already nine Power Five-caliber players in the state. If you want to count former Bryant defensive end TJ Lindsey, who recently announced he’ll play his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida, that number reaches double digits.
There are also a handful of other in-state players with Power Five offers:
- Pine Bluff athlete Austyn Dendy: Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and Purdue
- Earle athlete Joseph McVay: Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
- Lake Village linebacker Aquavious Dunbar: Vanderbilt
- Malvern offensive lineman Vinny Winters: Arkansas, Kansas State, Missouri
- Malvern running back Jalen Dupree: Boston College, Kansas State, Purdue
- Little Rock Parkview defensive tackle Alex Martin: Cincinnati, Kansas State
If those players sign with Power Five programs or other players emerge in the next few months as Power Five-caliber athletes, it could surpass the 2022 class — which had 15 — as the deepest in-state group since 2008, when there were 18 such players.
In-State Arkansas Recruiting
The commitment of CJ Brown got us to thinking about how many college football players have come out of each in-state high school in recent years.
Best of Arkansas Sports has a database of FBS signees from the Natural State that is believed to be mostly complete dating back to the early- to mid-1990s. Using that as our source, here’s a look at which high schools have produced the most FBS signees over a 10-year period leading up to the 2024 class, which means from 2014-23:
|School||FBS Signees (2014-23)|
|t-2. Joe T. Robinson||11|
|t-2. Pulaski Academy||11|
|4. North Little Rock||10|
|7. Little Rock Parkview||7|
|t-8. Bentonville West||6|
|t-8. Fort Smith Northside||6|
Here’s how that list looks if we include only Power Five signees from that decade, which excludes players who signed with Arkansas State, the service academies or any other school from the Group of Five:
|School||Power Five Signees (2014-23)|
|2. Joe T. Robinson||7|
|3. Little Rock Parkview||6|
|t-4. Fort Smith Northside||5|
|t-4. Pulaski Academy||5|
|t-8. Bentonville West||3|
|t-8. North Little Rock||3|
Perhaps the most surprising school on that list is Ashdown, a small South Arkansas town with a population just over 4,200. Despite being a Class 4A school, it has produced a trio of four-star recruits in recent years — all of whom have signed with the Razorbacks:
- DB Montaric Brown (2017)
- DB LaDarrius Bishop (2018)
- TE Shamar Easter (2023)
Now it’s time for some fun. Over the 20-year period from 2004-23, the Arkansas football program signed 140 in-state players from 62 different high schools.
Rather than just list them, Best of Arkansas Sports thought we’d make it a game. You can play our custom Sporcle quiz below, in which you have 10 minutes to guess as many as you can.
So, simply press “Play Quiz” and then start typing in the name of an in-state high school to see how many Razorback signess have come from that school and a sampling of names.
Arkansas Football Commits in Class of 2024
- DE Kavion Henderson — Leeds (Ala.) — Nov. 6, 2022
- DT Dion Stutts — Memphis (Tenn.) University School — March 11, 2023
- NOTE: Stutts tragically died in an ATV accident on June 13.
- ATH Noreel White — Ocean Springs (Miss.) St. Martin — March 13, 2023
- ATH JuJu Pope — Batesville (Miss.) South Panola — April 8, 2023
- QB KJ Jackson — Montgomery (Ala.) St. James — April 9, 2023
- CB Jaden Allen — Aledo (Texas) — April 21, 2023
- DE Charleston Collins — Little Rock (Ark.) Mills — April 21, 2023
- WR Courtney Crutchfield — Pine Bluff (Ark.) — April 21, 2023
- CB Tevis Metcalf — Birmingham (Ala.) Parker — April 22, 2023
- ATH Jadan Baugh — Decatur (Ga.) Columbia — May 19, 2023
- ATH Ahkhari Johnson — Texarkana (Texas) Pleasant Grove — June 14, 2023
- WR CJ Brown — Bentonville (Ark.) — June 15, 2023
More coverage of Arkansas football and Arkansas recruiting from BoAS…