Gus Malzahn Meddling with Hogs’ Future at Most Important Position + Other Arkansas Recruiting Nuggets

Gus Malzahn, Sam Pittman, Arkansas recruiting
photo credit: UCF Athletics / Nick Wenger

Depth at the quarterback position has been a major issue for Arkansas football this season, as it has struggled mightily when starter KJ Jefferson has been banged up.

Including the Liberty loss, when he played despite not being close to 100%, the Razorbacks have averaged just 15.3 points on 386.7 yards in the three games Jefferson hasn’t been healthy. That’s a significant drop off from the 36.1 and 493.9 they’re averaging in the other seven games.

The hope is that Jefferson will return as a fifth-year senior in 2023, but if he doesn’t or if he gets hurt again, Malik Hornsby and Cade Fortin have not inspired a lot of confidence that they can be the answer. The transfer portal is always looming, but naturally, focus amongst fans has shifted to the player committed in the current class, Malachi Singleton out of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Ga.

The four-star signal caller is a top-250 overall prospect on 247Sports and committed to the Razorbacks back in April. However, there are rumblings that his pledge might not be so solid as things enter the final five-week stretch before the early signing period opens up Dec. 21.

Singleton has been in Orlando on unofficial visits for UCF’s last two home games — against Temple on Oct. 13 and Cincinnati on Oct. 29 — and he might be on flip watch, according to some experts, including 247Sports Andrew Ivins.

Not only does he have an uncle who played for the Knights in the 1990s, but Singleton also fits the profile of the style of quarterback Gus Malzahn likes, which is one reason he was a top target of UCF’s before he committed to Arkansas.

“He’s been injured this season, but he fits what Gus wants to do,” Ivins said in a recent Preps to Pros interview. “He can run the football, just like John Rhys Plumlee. He can spray it around. This is a guy that’s produced in the Peach State’s highest classification, so that’s one I do think we need to keep an eye on, especially given where UCF is right now and given the fact that Gus wants these run-first quarterbacks.”

Simply put, losing Singleton at this stage would be a devastating blow to Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and Arkansas recruiting. Not only would the Razorbacks be losing a four-star prospect, but they’d suddenly be without a quarterback in the 2023 class after also not signing one in 2022.

It’s also notable that Lucas Coley has transferred to Houston and Landon Rogers has converted to wide receiver, meaning neither of 2021 signees are still quarterbacks at Arkansas either. The only scholarship quarterback on the roster outside of Jefferson is Hornsby. Fortin and Kade Renfro, who has torn his ACL twice in less than a year, are walk-ons who began their careers on scholarship at other Power Five schools.

Finding a replacement for Singleton this late in the process would be extremely difficult because most high-caliber quarterbacks are already committed elsewhere. The Razorbacks would likely need to flip someone themselves, but that might be tough if they’ve been settled on Singleton as their quarterback the last seven months.

They could also try to address the issue via the transfer portal, but it won’t be easy to convince one of the better transfers to pick Arkansas if Jefferson returns as the unquestioned starter.

Needless to say, keeping Singleton on board and signing him during he early signing period is of the utmost importance to the Razorbacks.

Check out some highlights from Malachi Singleton’s junior season:

Unique 5-Star Signing

Most of the attention this past week centered around Layden Blocker and Baye Fall signing with Arkansas basketball, giving Eric Musselman five 5-star signees in a two-year span. After all, that puts the Razorbacks in pretty exclusive company.

However, Musselman wasn’t the only coach who officially signed a five-star player who will continue their career at Bud Walton Arena. Women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors got in on the fun when Taliah Scott put pen to paper during a ceremony at her school, St. Johns Country Day School in Orange Park, Fla., on Tuesday.

The 5-foot-9 guard committed back in September and is easily the crown jewel of the Razorbacks’ five-player 2023 class, checking in as the No. 11 overall player in the country in ESPN’s HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings.

That fact alone would make Scott’s signing worthy of inclusion in our weekly recruiting nuggets, but it deserves extra attention because she went all out with her ceremony, even having a live pig present for the occasion.

Scott joins a class that already featured Maryn Archer and Jenna Lawrence, who signed last week, and that has since also added Carly Keats and Cristina Sanchez. Keats comes to Arkansas from the JUCO ranks, while Sanchez is an international player from Spain.

Arkansas Baseball Commit Wins Gold

The most recent top-100 commitment in Arkansas’ heralded 2023 class, which is ranked No. 1 overall by Perfect Game, Nazzan Zanetello played a key role in the U.S. winning the WBSC U-18 World Cup Americas Qualifier over the weekend.

A former Miami (Fla.) pledge, the Missouri native flipped to the Razorbacks last month. He is a Perfect Game All-American and was named the MVP of the MLB Develops Breakthrough Series in June.

He added a gold medal to his resume by going 9 for 21 with five doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, five walks and only three strikeouts over eight games in Mexico. That gave him an impressive .429/.538/.810 slash line and 1.348 OPS. Zanetello was also the stolen base champion at the event, swiping 5 of 5 bags.

Making the performance even more impressive is the fact that he delivered in big spots. Before going 3 for 3 with a couple of doubles and two RBIs in the title game against Panama, Zanetello — who split his time between third base and center field — hit a walk-off single to cap a back-and-forth game against Mexico and clinch Team USA’s spot in the title game.

Other Arkansas Recruiting Nuggets

  • It wasn’t enough for a win, but Arkansas wide receiver commit Davion Dozier ended his high school career with an incredible performance in which he caught 10 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Amazingly, most of that production came in the first half for Moody High. After that, Arab High adjusted and shut him in the second half to pull away for a 42-20 win. Dozier put up video game numbers this season, catching 58 passes for 1,301 yards and 19 touchdowns in 12 games.
  • One of the big-time visitors the Razorbacks had on campus last weekend was 2024 four-star quarterback Michael Hawkins, who’s from Allen, Texas. It was at least his second trip to Fayetteville, as he was also in town in late July.
  • A couple of notable 2026 prospects are on the visit list for the Ole Miss game. Devin Carter is a wide receiver from Cedar Grove High School in Georgia (where running backs coach Jimmy Carter used to coach and where Jadon Haselwood and Rashod Dubinion played) and the son of former NFL running back Dexter Carter. Keenan Harris is wide receiver/safety from St. Louis University High, meaning he’s teammates with five-star and top priority wide receiver Ryan Wingo.
  • It’s no secret that Arkansas has struggled in the secondary this season. It appears that the Razorbacks might be looking to the JUCO ranks for some immediate help, as they offered Kendel Dolby — a defensive back at Northeast Oklahoma A&M — last Friday. Just two days later, he included the Razorbacks in his top 10.
  • With the 2023 class mostly complete, Arkansas has begun handing out some preferred walk-on offers. In the past week, Van Buren wide receiver Malachi Henry and Arkadelphia quarterback Donovan Whitten (who would play linebacker for the Razorbacks) have shared that they’ve been given the opportunity.
  • Eric Musselman confirmed that the Razorbacks are done recruiting high school prospects in the 2023 class after signing the five-star duo of Layden Blocker and Baye Fall. They will fill remaining roster spots, however many that may be, via the transfer portal. They’ve also shifted their focus to future classes, which includes hosting 2025 in-state standout Terrion Burgess from Benton for the Fordham game. He is the No. 17 overall player in his class, according to 247Sports.

Arkansas Baseball Announces No. 1 Signing Class

The Razorbacks have officially announced its 20-man signing class for 2023, which ranks No. 1 in the country by both Perfect Game and Baseball America. More than half of the group – 12 players, to be exact – is ranked inside the top 100 on Perfect Game.

Here’s a rundown of those players:

(NOTE: Conway right-handed pitcher Kyler Spencer and Camden Fairview’s Martavius Thomas are committed, but don’t plan to sign until the spring.)

PlayerPositionHometown / High School
Jaewoo ChoRHPSeoul, South Korea / IMG Academy
Jonah ConradtRHPGreenville, Wisc. / P27 Academy
Colin FisherLHPNoble, Okla. / Noble HS
Nate FrancoC/UTLWestlake Village, Calif. / Westlake HS
Gabe GaeckleRHPAptos, Calif. / Aptos HS
Kendall GeorgeOFHumble, Texas / Atascocita HS
Adam HachmanLHPWentzville, Mo. / Timberland HS
Ryder HelfrickCDiscovery Bay, Calif. / Clayton Valley Charter HS
Tucker HollandLHPBurlington, N.C. / The Burlington School
Barret KentRHPPottsboro, Texas / Pottsboro HS
Walker MartinINFEaton, Colo. / Eaton HS
Tate McGuireRHPKansas City, Mo. / Liberty North HS
Aidan MillerINFTrinity, Fla. / J.W. Mitchell HS
Dylan QuestadRHPWaterford, Wisc. / Waterford Union HS
Diego RamosINF/RHPVian, Okla. / Vian HS
Jack SmithLHPMoulton, Ala. / Hartselle HS
Kade SmithINF/RHPSearcy, Ark. / Harding Academy
Nolan SouzaINFHonolulu, Hawaii / Punahou HS
Ty WaidC/INFTexarkana, Ark. / Arkansas HS
Nazzan ZanetelloINFFlorissant, Mo. / Christian Brothers College HS


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