Most of the drama surrounding the Arkansas football program leading up to the start of the early signing period revolved around the wide receiver position.
The Razorbacks lost out on in-state standout Courtney Crutchfield, but worked quickly to replace him, even though the replacement comes with a couple less stars next to his name. Critically, they managed to hang on to their other four-star commit in Ashton Bethel-Roman.
A few days before Crutchfield’s Tuesday morning commitment to Missouri, and with Bethel-Roman’s status up in the air, offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino brought another wide receiver to head coach Sam Pittman’s attention: Krosse Johnson, a lightly recruited two-star prospect from New Orleans.
“Bobby knew about him, I did not,” Pittman said. “We were just seeing if there was somebody out there in case we lost somebody and, as you know, Ashton Bethel-Roman just signed right before we got in here, so there were question marks on some of those guys in the wide receiver room. I knew we could go into the portal, but we needed some young guys, too.”
Although he reported Power Five offers from Texas Tech and Indiana, Johnson originally chose to stay close to home and commit to Louisiana-Lafayette over Tulane, North Texas and a handful of other Group of Five offers.
That happened last Thursday, but lasted only five days. Johnson announced his de-commitment from the Ragin’ Cajuns on Tuesday night and waited until Wednesday morning to announce his offer and commitment to Arkansas football.
In fact, he tweeted about the latter before sharing the offer from offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino a few seconds later, with both tweets being sent at 7:31 a.m. CT. The Razorbacks then made it official a couple hours later.
What Krosse Johnson Brings to Arkansas
Playing at Holy Cross School, a Catholic school in New Orleans, Johnson caught 13 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns this past season. That came after a 2022 season in which he made 8 receptions for 180 yards and a score.
Those numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but the Razorbacks are likely intrigued by his speed. Listed at 5-foot-10, 168 pounds on Holy Cross’ official website, Johnson also ran track for the Tigers and was clocked at 10.54 seconds in the 100-meter dash last spring. He reports a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, as well.
“He’s not the biggest guy, about 170-175 pounds, but what he can do, how he can catch and how he can run… He runs a 10.5 (in track), but he runs a 10.5 — if that makes sense — on the field,” Pittman said. “He had a really electric tape and so I said, ‘I want on him if we have an available.’”
It’s similar to last year’s late add at wide receiver, albeit not quite so late. In the 2023 class, it wasn’t until the summer that the Razorbacks signed Dazmin James, a state champion sprinter from North Carolina who was relatively unheard of in football recruiting circles.
He was clocked at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a Tennessee camp and won the Class 4A state title in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.46 seconds, though, and managed to make the grade necessary to land somewhere like Arkansas.
One key difference, however, is that James is listed at 6-foot-2, so he’s about four inches taller than Johnson. The New Orleans native is built more like Isaiah Sategna, another elite speedster who’s listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.
Keeping Ashton Bethel-Roman on Board
Perhaps the Razorbacks’ biggest news from Day 1 of the early signing period was keeping their other four-star wide receiver, Ashton Bethel-Roman, on board.
Momentum didn’t seem to be going in Arkansas’ favor with him, as he took an official visit to Missouri late in the season and spent last weekend at Texas A&M, which is less than two hours away from where he attended Ridge Point High School in Missouri City, Texas.
However, Sam Pittman said he “got the thumbs up” as he was heading into his 2 p.m. press conference and the UA officially announced his signing at 2:10.
“Kenny (Guiton) obviously did a nice job with the family,” Pittman said. “Our relationships helped us. Bobby (Petrino), I think, has done a tremendous job of getting to know him since he’s been here.
“Bobby met with him, I’m pretty sure we all did, about an hour a day the last few days. Bobby did a tremendous job with him, as well, of showing him why — why he wants him, how he’s doing to use him. But I think it goes back to say a lot about the young man. He wanted to come to Arkansas and the parents allowed him to make the choice, whatever his choice was.”
Not only did Bethel-Roman’s decision keep the Razorbacks from replacing two four-star recruits with a two-star, but he is a talented player who could help immediately.
Listed at 6-foot-0, 171 pounds, he is another speed guy and was recruited by schools across the country. In fact, he was ranked as the No. 114 nationally by 247Sports, making him the highest-ranked wide receiver to sign with Arkansas in the 247Sports era (since 2010). He surpasses a guy named Treylon Burks, who was ranked No. 129 in the 2019 class.
“Great kid, great family, but I think he ran a 21.3 or something like that in the 200 meters, something close to that,” Pittman said. “Obviously we all know we like speed, Bobby loves speed. So we went out and got him.”
Looking at Arkansas’ 2024 WR Room
The Razorbacks actually signed a trio of wide receivers Wednesday, but there was no drama with the third, as Bentonville three-star recruit CJ Brown has been solid since committing in June.
They are joining what appears to be a relatively deep receiver corps, which is a good thing to have in a Bobby Petrino offense.
Leading receiver Andrew Armstrong has already announced he is returning for his super senior season, as has second-leading receiver Isaac TeSlaa. It’s believed Tyrone Broden will make a similar decision.
Jaedon Wilson and Isaiah Sategna are both back after getting their first real playing time in 2022, plus Davion Dozier and Dazmin James will be redshirt freshmen after flashing some talent in fall camp.
Even though that would be 10 scholarship wide receivers, Pittman said he would like to add one more from the transfer portal.
The most logical guy would be Evan Stewart, who officially entered the portal from Texas A&M on Tuesday. A Memphis native who played his high school ball in Frisco, Texas, he was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 receiver in the 2022 class, according to 247Sports.
After earning Freshman All-America honors last season, he was in the midst of an even better sophomore campaign with Petrino despite missing time with a thigh injury. In eight games, he caught 38 passes for 514 yards and four touchdowns. Stewart apparently really liked his OC because he tweeted this during Texas A&M’s upset bid against LSU:
Another option is LaJohntay Wester, whom Arkansas recently offered out of the transfer portal. The Florida Atlantic product is going to be highly recruited and doesn’t have any obvious Arkansas ties, though, so landing him may be more of a longshot. Wester finished second nationally with 108 receptions this year, with those going for 1,168 yards and eight scores.
Check out highlights of recent Arkansas football commit Krosse Johnson:
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