Arkansas’ New Commit a First in New Era of DFW Recruiting

Jayden Shelton, Arkansas football, Arkansas recruiting
photo credit: Twitter/@JaydenShe7

Sam Pittman finally received some good news on the recruiting trail Monday afternoon when Jayden Shelton announced his pledge to Arkansas football.

The linebacker from Dallas is the Razorbacks’ first commit in more than three months and just its fourth overall in the Class of 2025.

Rated a high three-star prospect across each of the top recruiting outlets, Shelton is one of the top players in the DFW area and stars at Texas powerhouse South Oak Cliff High School.

He is the lone defense-only player committed to Arkansas right now, as the rest of the class includes quarterback Grayson Wilson out of Central Arkansas Christian, kicker Evan Noel from Mississippi and athlete Markeylin Batton from Texas. Batton could play running back or defensive back at the next level.

Arkansas is tied with South Carolina and Mississippi State for the third-fewest 2025 commitments in the SEC. Only Vanderbilt (2) and Missouri (1) have fewer.

That small number is a major reason why the class as a whole is ranked so low nationally. It is No. 50 on Rivals and No. 59 on 247Sports. On3, which factors in the average number of commits at this point in the cycle, is a little bit higher at No. 48.

The Recruitment of Jayden Shelton

When he arrives on campus next year, Jayden Shelton will be no stranger to playing alongside top talent. In fact, he is one of four linebackers on the South Oak Cliff’s 2022 state title team that will play at the FBS level.

Brandon Jones signed with UTEP in the 2024 class, while Dylan Brown-Turner just completed his freshman year at Florida State as a 2023 signee. The fourth was Kelvion Riggins, who has since transferred to Forney and is committed to Texas A&M in the 2025 class.

Shelton is coming off a very productive junior campaign in which he racked up 119 tackles, including 13 for a loss, and made two interceptions, leading the Bears back to the Class 5A-Division II championship game.

Despite seven tackles and one TFL by Shelton, South Oak Cliff — which won Dallas ISD’s first recognized football title since 1958 just a couple years earlier — narrowly missed out on making it a three-peat, falling to Port Neches-Groves 20-17 on a late touchdown following an onside kick recovery.

Even as a three-star recruit, Shelton racked up an impressive offer list of 24 schools, That includes three of the four teams in last year’s College Football Playoff — Michigan, Washington and Texas. It was ultimately a battle between former Southwest Conference foes, though.

Baylor, TCU, SMU and Texas Tech were the other schools in the mix, with the Bears thought to be Arkansas’ biggest competition.

Going up against those schools for top talent in the Lone Star State, especially the DFW area, is nothing new for the Razorbacks. This is, however, the first time since the infamous Death Penalty that they went head-to-head with SMU as a member of a major conference — at a time when paying players, via NIL, is now legal — and came out on top.

The Mustangs will be in the ACC next season and are riding high off an 11-win season under second-year coach and Arkansas native Rhett Lashlee. Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech are still members of the revamped Big 12.

What it Means for Arkansas Football

Coming off a 4-8 season that has head coach Sam Pittman firmly on the hot seat entering 2024, Arkansas football could use all of the offseason wins it can get. The recruiting trail is a good spot to start, especially when things haven’t been going so well on that front.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happened since Markeylin Batton committed to the Razorbacks on Feb. 3:

  • Heralded in-state lineman Carius Curne committed and then de-committed, and is now trending to SEC rival LSU.
  • Four-star running back Jamarion Parker backed off his pledge in the wake of running backs coach Jimmy Smith leaving for TCU.
  • Former four-star safety commit Marcus Wimberly, another top in-state player, announced his commitment to Oklahoma.
  • Even one of Arkansas’ seemingly most solid commits has posted on Twitter about being excited for a visit to Oklahoma.

That’s a tough stretch no matter how you look at it and it doesn’t even include the rough end to the 2024 signing class, which included losing top in-state recruit Courtney Crutchfield to Missouri and seeing Ashton Bethel-Roman get out of his NLI before ever arriving on campus.

Arkansas football did host quite a few recruits for its annual Red-White spring game last weekend, though, which could yield a few commitments that get the ball rolling in the right direction. The Razorbacks are probably hoping Jayden Shelton is the start of that.

Shelton also continues their presence in DFW. Last year, Arkansas signed defensive back Jaden Allen from Aledo. In 2023, the Razorbacks actually inked four from that area, highlighted by shutdown cornerback Jaylon Braxton.

Jayden Shelton Highlights

Check out some highlights of new Arkansas football commit Jayden Shelton:


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