Last 2 Commits Keep Arkansas Recruiting from Falling into Alarming Territory

Connor Howes

It took a few months, but Arkansas finally flipped Kash Courtney and added him to its 2025 recruiting class Thursday evening. Then, on Friday, Arkansas nabbed its first 247Sports blue chip commitment for that cycle in Connor Howes out of Florida. These developments have curbed what had been a massive plummeting for the program in the football recruiting rankings and provide a glimpse into what it will take to save face in the months ahead.

Kash Courtney, an offensive lineman from Carthage, Texas, had been committed to Baylor since October. Offensive line coach Eric Mateos, though, had been trying to convince his former pledge to follow him to Fayetteville since he was hired away from the Bears.

Mateos managed to get him on campus a couple of times, first in January for a junior day and again earlier this month for an official visit, and the Razorbacks were able to seal the deal.

Courtney is a mid-tier three-star recruit who has an 0.8542 rating in the 247Sports Composite. He’s on the low end on Rivals with a 5.5 rating, but closer to the high three-star range with an 87 rating from On3.

Connor Howes: Finally, a Blue Chip Commit

Connor Howes, meanwhile, is a four-star recruit who took an official visit to Arkansas the same weekend as Courtney. He had picked up a pair of Crystal Ball predictions on 247Sports and one FutureCast pick on Rivals in the last two days, and all three were for the Razorbacks.

The 6’5″, 300-pound St. Cloud, Fla. native recently told 247Sports that he’s still “50-50” between Arkansas and Rutgers with a decision coming next week, but did show his hand when he commented on Courtney’s visit tweet by posting, “I can’t wait till we can be teammates.”

He said benefitting from the coaching of both Mateos and Sam Pittman, who had taken a more hands-on approach with instructing offensive linemen during spring practice, was a major draw.

“I want a coach that has a personal relationship with you as an offensive lineman, and that means a lot to me,” he told 247Sports. “[Pittman] helps out with the o-line during practice.”

“It’s two coaches who are on the same page teaching you. You have two pairs of eyes on you, so it’s better.” No doubt, Howes will need to shore up his technique and get lower on his blocking in order to prevent bull rushes like this from happening in the future.

Connor Howes has canceled his planned visits to Ole Miss and NC State after going with the Hogs.

The Razorbacks are now up to 10 commitments for 2025. Only four SEC teams — Missouri (9), Kentucky (7), Florida (5) and Mississippi State (4) — have fewer players on board in the current cycle. (Rutgers actually leads the nation with 23 commits.)

The Hogs’ low number is part of the reason the class why before Howes’ commitment Arkansas was ranked 49th nationally, and 13th out of 16 SEC teams, in the 247Sports Composite. That’s about where Rivals had it ranked, too, as Arkansas checked in at No. 48 overall and No. 13 in the SEC. Even though On3 factors in class size, it had the Razorbacks 53rd in the country and 15th in the SEC, ahead of only Mississippi State.

However, Howes’ arrival has shot Arkansas football up seven spots to No. 42, providing some buffer from falling out of the Top 50 altogether. Dropping below No. 50 nationally would be a huge hit in terms of public perception for almost any SEC program outside of Vanderbilt.

It’s also worth noting that Arkansas’ commitments have an average 247Sports Composite rating of 87.79, which is the second-worst in the conference. Only Vanderbilt (86.65) is lower.

Arkansas Hoping to Reverse Recruiting Trend

Those rankings are certainly nothing for Arkansas football fans to get excited about.

Being near the bottom of the SEC in recruiting rankings is unfortunately nothing new for the Razorbacks, but they’re usually at least in the top 30 or so. They’ve got work to do to even get to that in the current cycle.

To do so, Arkansas has to get more blue chippers like Howes and flips like Courtney. In essence, it needs the opposite of what happened in the last class to unfold this year.

At this point last year, the Razorbacks were in the top 20 of the recruiting rankings and looked like they might notch a rare top-20 finish.

Instead, the 2023 season was a disaster. Arkansas lost several close games early on and completely fell apart down the stretch, resulting in a disappointing 4-8 campaign.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the recruiting class suffered. Many of the four-star commits jumped ship and signed elsewhere, including the top player in the state, wide receiver Courtney Crutchfield, going to Missouri.

That led to the 2024 class falling to No. 30 overall and No. 15 in the SEC in the 247Sports Composite.

The struggles of last year and head coach Sam Pittman being on the hot seat have likely made many of the high-caliber recruits hesitant about committing to Arkansas. Why pick the Razorbacks if the coach to whom you’re committing may not even be here on signing day?

That’s probably why Arkansas is the only SEC school without a 247Sports Composite four-star commitment. (Yes, even Vanderbilt has one.)

It will be up to Pittman to prove he isn’t a “lame duck” coach by winning some games — starting with the Week 2 game at Oklahoma State. If Arkansas can get back on track and look more like its 2021 version that won nine games, it could flip more commits from other schools and pull in some four-star recruits as signing day approaches, rather than lose them like last year.

Who’s Next After Connor Howes, Kash Courtney

Now that Courtney and Howes are in the fold, it raises an obvious question: Who’s next?

The fact that the Razorbacks landed an offensive lineman shouldn’t be too much of a surprise for Arkansas fans who pay attention to recruiting. Eric Mateos teased the good news with a cryptic tweet earlier in the week.

It turns out the offensive line coach was referring to multiple commitments, but could looking ahead to next week, it’s possible a third could be on the way.

Another big-time offensive lineman still on the board is Carius Curne, the No. 1 player in the state for 2025. He has already visited Missouri and Arkansas and will be at LSU this weekend. His high school coach told Best of Arkansas Sports that he’ll announce his decision between those schools next Wednesday.

A couple more looming decision dates include the Little Rock Parkview tandem of Omarion Robinson and Monterrio Elston on June 29, as well as high four-star linebacker Tavion Wallace from Georgia on July 2. All three of them took official visits to Arkansas this month.

2025 Arkansas Football Commits

  • K Evan Noel – Bay Saint Louis (Miss.) St. Stanislaus
  • QB Grayson Wilson – Conway (Ark.)
  • ATH Markeylin Batton – Atlanta (Texas)
  • LB Jayden Shelton – Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff
  • DB Taijh Overton – Mobile (Ala.) Williamson
  • WR Kamare Williams – Wellington (Fla.) Palm Beach Central
  • OL Blake Cherry – Owasso (Okla.)
  • ATH Quentin Murphy – Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview
  • OL Kash Courtney – Carthage (Texas)
  • OL Connor Howes – St. Cloud (Florida)

***

Check out some highlights of new Arkansas football commit Kash Courtney: 

***

More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS…

Facebook Comments