Hogs Just Made In-State Recruiting History for 3rd Straight Year with Robinson, Elston Decisions

Monterrio Elston, Omarion Robinson, Sam Pittman, Kansas State football, Arkansas football
photo credit: Twitter/Monterrio Elston / Craven Whitlow / Twitter/Omarion Robinson

Any recruiting momentum Arkansas football gained earlier in the week was stifled Saturday when two more in-state targets committed elsewhere — Omarion Robinson to Oklahoma and Monterrio Elston to Kansas State.

The pair of Little Rock Parkview stars are the fifth and sixth Class of 2025 players from the Natural State to turn down the Razorbacks and instead leave the state for another Power Five program.

Robinson, a four-star safety, chose the Sooners from a top four that also included Oregon and LSU, while Elston, a three-star running back, picked the Wildcats from a top three that also included Missouri.

Those decisions came just four days after Arkansas shocked the recruiting world by swiping high four-star linebacker Tavion Wallace seemingly out of Florida State’s grasp, all while Georgia and Florida watched.

It was arguably the biggest recruiting coups of Sam Pittman’s tenure as head coach, and one of the best out-of-state commitments the Razorbacks have received during the 247Sports Composite era, shooting Arkansas up 15 spots to No. 24 in the team recruiting rankings for the Class of 2025.

A slew of commitments to other schools over the past few days bumped them back down to No. 29 nationally, but a double-dose of good news Saturday afternoon would have had the Razorbacks on the brink of cracking the top 20.

That didn’t happen, though, so Arkansas’ class remains at 16 commitments and ranked 29th, which is also 12th out of 16 SEC teams, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Robinson and Elston at LR Parkview

Led by head coach Brad Bolding, the sleeping giant that was Little Rock Parkview has been awoken.

The former powerhouse of the 1970s and ’80s went dormant for most of three decades before Bolding — who previously engineered a lot of success at North Little Rock — helped resurrect it in recent years.

A big part of the Patriots’ back-to-back Class 5A state titles, which includes an active 25-game winning streak, has been Omarion Robinson and Monterrio Elston.

Both of them have been contributors for multiple seasons, but Robinson has been on the recruiting scene the longest between the two. He picked up his first offer from Memphis in November of his freshman year.

Ole Miss followed shortly after and Arkansas jumped on board a couple months later, in January. Since then, he’s picked up numerous offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Texas, USC and several other Power Four programs.

That has led to him being ranked as high as No. 121 nationally by Rivals, and that was before he earned Defensive Back MVP honors at the Rivals Five-Star camp in Jacksonville, Fla., this summer.

Robinson recently told Best of Arkansas Sports that part of Arkansas’ recruiting pitch involved him getting to play some wide receiver, but that wasn’t enough to keep him from picking the Sooners instead.

Elston’s recruitment didn’t take off until much more recently. His first offer came from UAPB last September, near the start of his junior season. Exactly a month later, Kansas State became his first FBS offer.

Arkansas didn’t extend a scholarship to Elston until this January, with Missouri and Georgia Tech following as his only other Power Four offers. One reason he wasn’t as highly recruited and is only a mid-tier three-star prospect is because of his size, as he’s listed at 5-foot-8, 180 pounds.

What it Means for Arkansas Football

At this point, there is no denying that Sam Pittman’s in-state recruiting efforts have fallen behind what Arkansas football fans have come to expect.

There have always been a few top Natural State prospects to spurn the Razorbacks over the years, but losing Omarion Robinson to Oklahoma means the 2025 class will make some history.

He is the No. 2 player in the state, according to the 247Sports Composite — sandwiched between Marion offensive lineman Carius Curne at No. 1 and Bauxite safety Marcus Wimberly at No. 3. Curne and Wimberly were once committed to Arkansas, but have since flipped to LSU and Oklahoma, respectively.

This is only the second time in the 25-year history of 247Sports Composite that the Razorbacks struck out on each of the top three players in the state. The other time it happened was 18 years earlier, when Lee Ziemba (Rogers) and Kodi Burns (Fort Smith Northside) signed with Auburn and Broderick Green (Pulaski Academy) signed with USC in the 2007 class.

Green eventually transferred back to Arkansas, but Ziemba and Burns helped the Tigers win a national championship, with Ziemba being a four-year starter and earning consensus All-America honors as an offensive lineman.

Not-So-Hot Stuff These Last 3 Years

Unfortunately for the Hogs, Sam Pittman is no stranger to making that kind of history with in-state recruiting. In the 2023 class, the Razorbacks signed only three in-state recruits. The following year, they signed just five of the 14 in-staters who went to Power Five programs, which is 35.7%. Both of those figures are believed to be all-time lows, based on research by Best of Arkansas Sports.

Assuming he isn’t able to flip any of them and there’s no shakeup at the top of the rankings, Pittman will have landed only half of the top-3 in-state recruits in his first six classes.

Chad Morris also signed only half of them during his career, but it was a small sample size of just two classes. Bret Bielema signed 10 of 15 (66.7%) and Bobby Petrino signed 9 of 15 (60%), while Houston Nutt signed 13 of 21 (61.9%) over his final seven years. Prior to his final class, when he went 0 for 3, Nutt had signed 72.2% of the top-3 in-state recruits.

On the bright side, Pittman does have commitments from the No. 4 and No. 5 players in the state: Conway quarterback Grayson Wilson and Little Rock Parkview athlete Quentin Murphy.

However, if the Razorbacks also had those top three players in Robinson, Curne and Wimberly, they’d be 16th in the national recruiting rankings and ninth in the SEC.

That doesn’t even factor in the trio of running backs headed out of state. In addition to Monterrio Elston going to Kansas State, Bryant’s Daniel Anderson is committed to Notre Dame and Beebe’s Kiandrea Barker is committed to Penn State.

It probably wouldn’t be realistic to take all three of them, but the Razorbacks don’t have a single one committed. They didn’t even recruit Anderson and didn’t offer Barker until more than a year after he pledged to the Nittany Lions.

As things currently stand, Arkansas doesn’t have a running back in its 2025 class. Four-star prospect Jamarion Parker from St. Louis was previously part of the group, but backed off his pledge following running backs coach Jimmy Smith’s departure and has since committed to Nebraska.

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