Tea Leaves Show More Top Arkansas Talent Joining Brian Huff in Out-of-State Exodus

TJ Lindsey, Brian Huff, Arkansas football, Arkansas recruiting
photo credit: Twitter/TjLindsey_ / Instagram/brianhuff_

Arkansas football missed out on yet another one of its top targets, as Brian Huff has committed to SEC foe Missouri.

The linebacker out of Valley View High School in Jonesboro picked the Tigers over the in-state Razorbacks, as well as fellow finalists UCF and UNLV, at a ceremony in his hometown Wednesday evening.

Huff was actually one of two major Razorback targets to commit elsewhere on Wednesday. Defensive lineman Kendall Jackson, who plays at F.W. Buchholz High School in Gainesville, chose the hometown Florida Gators over Arkansas, Kentucky and Miami (Fla.). He was originally scheduled to announce on July 20.

Those decisions dropped the Razorbacks to just 1 for 8 with recruits who had them among their finalists and announced their commitments this month.

Since July 1, the Razorbacks have missed out on offensive lineman Jac’Qawn McRoy (Oregon), defensive lineman Alex Foster (Baylor), linebacker D’Angelo Barker (Auburn), cornerback Chris Johnson II (Arizona State), offensive lineman Fletcher Westphal (Florida) and now Huff and Jackson. Four of those seven are headed elsewhere within the SEC.

The good news for Arkansas is that its lone hit over that span was a home run, as wide receiver Ashton Bethel-Roman – a top-100 prospect with NFL lineage – picked the Razorbacks over Oregon and Texas Tech on the Fourth of July.

It also helps that Sam Pittman and his staff got off to a great start with the 2024 class, which now sits at 14 players. That doesn’t include defensive tackle Dion Stutts, who tragically died last month.

Of those players, nine of them are considered four-star prospects by Rivals, while seven of them have four-star status in the 247Sports Composite. The group as a whole is ranked as high as No. 18 nationally, which is where it sits in the On3 Consensus. 247Sports, meanwhile, has it at No. 21 and Rivals places it at No. 24.

There’s a chance Arkansas will break out of its slump Friday, which could result in a bump in those rankings, too.

Good News Coming for Arkansas Football?

There’s no good way to sugarcoat the Razorbacks’ 1-for-8 start to the month, but they have a chance to gain some momentum Friday, as a pair of four-star targets are scheduled to announce their decisions.

First up will be Benton running back Braylen Russell. He is set to choose from a final three that includes Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee during a ceremony at his school at 6:45 p.m. CT. It will be live streamed by 247Sports.

Ranked as the No. 228 overall recruit in 2024 by ESPN, Russell was actually committed to the Razorbacks for about a year before backing off his pledge last October. They’ve stayed after him, though, and a source has indicated it’s going to come down to Arkansas and Tennessee, with the Razorbacks believed to be holding the edge. 

For what it’s worth, On3’s Recruiting Prediction Machine reflects that sentiment. In fact, it gives Arkansas a 94.3% chance to land him.

Then, just 15 minutes later, cornerback Selman Bridges from Lake Belton High School in Temple, Texas, is set to choose between Arkansas, Texas, TCU and USC. His announcement will be streamed on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s YouTube page at 7 p.m. CT.

If he picks the Razorbacks, he’d immediately become the Hogs’ biggest commitment in the class and one of the biggest during the Pittman era. He’s a top-75 prospect on ESPN and 247Sports, with the latter ranking him No. 50 overall.

Despite a pair of his finalists being in the Lone Star State, Bridges is actually trending toward Arkansas.

Another one of the Razorbacks’ top targets, defensive back Ashton Hampton, is set to announce Saturday. He attends Florida State University School in Tallahassee, Fla., and is the son of UAPB head coach Alonzo Hampton.

It is believed that he’ll be choosing between Arkansas, Clemson, Florida and Louisville, as those are the four schools he officially visited in June. The Tigers appear to be in the lead, as they have both of his Crystal Ball predictions on 247Sports – from a pair of Clemson writers – and have a 49.4% chance to land him, according to On3’s Recruiting Prediction Machine.

Updated Look at 2024 In-State Crop

Landing Braylen Russell on Friday would be good news for the Razorbacks in more ways than one. Not only would they be gaining a four-star commitment, but also avoiding losing out on another member of the heralded 2024 in-state class.

Brian Huff was the second to commit to another SEC program, joining Little Rock Christian four-star quarterback Walker White (Auburn). It also sounds as though defensive end TJ Lindsey, who is from Bryant and will play his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida, is heading elsewhere.

In a video posted by the staff of Inside Texas, the On3 site dedicated to the Longhorns, Lindsey’s recruitment could be down between Texas and Auburn, with Miami (Fla.) and Texas A&M still in it. Arkansas was not mentioned.

As things currently stand, the Razorbacks have secured in-state commitments from Little Rock Mills defensive end Charleston Collins, Pine Bluff wide receiver Courtney Crutchfield, Bentonville wide receiver CJ Brown and Fort Smith Southside offensive lineman Kobe Branham.

Other LB Targets after Brian Huff

With Brian Huff committing to Missouri on Wednesday and D’Angelo Barker picking Auburn earlier this month, the Razorbacks will have to shift their focus elsewhere when it comes to linebacker.

They already have one pledged in four-star athlete Julius “JuJu” Pope out of South Panola High School in Batesville, Miss., but they’d like more than just one.

An obvious option for Arkansas would be another in-state prospect: Wyatt Simmons. Now a high three-star prospect, he burst onto the scene this spring with big-time offers rolling in from across the country following a big junior season at Harding Academy in Searcy.

Simmons visited Arkansas last month, as well as Auburn and Clemson. He doesn’t do interviews, but according to AuburnUndercover, the Auburn 247Sports site, it appears that the two Tigers are the frontrunners.

Something working in Auburn’s favor is the fact that its linebackers coach, Josh Aldridge, played at Harding University when Simmons’ father, Paul, was the defensive coordinator. Paul Simmons is now the Bisons’ head coach.

The Razorbacks are also making a strong push to flip LSU linebacker commit Xavier Atkins. The top-100 recruit has been to Fayetteville multiple times and seems to be genuinely interested in playing at Arkansas.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Atkins has already flipped once – he was committed to Missouri for a few months last year before backing off and picking LSU. He has said he plans to finalize his decision in September, but he may be on flip watch – regardless of his decision then – all the way until signing day.

Two other four-star linebackers and top-150 prospects officially visited Arkansas last month, but the Razorbacks face tough competition for both Bradley Shaw and Tylen Singleton.

Singleton, who is from Many, La., recently announced a top five that includes Arkansas, LSU, TCU, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Shaw, a native of Hoover, Ala., hasn’t narrowed down his options, but has offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M, USC and many others. He also took an official visit to Notre Dame the week before coming to Fayetteville.


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