FAYETTEVILLE — With a top-25 matchup looming in less than two hours, Sam Pittman had some recruiting to take care of first.
The third-year Arkansas football coach had several prospects on campus for the game, in which the Razorbacks knocked off No. 23 Cincinnati 31-24, but his first stop was a trio of top-30 recruits visiting for another sport.
The initial roar of the student section after he walked out of the tunnel and into Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the first time of the 2022 season had not yet fully dissipated when Pittman made it to the opposite sideline and gave Courtney Deifel, his good friend and Arkansas softball coach, a hug.
Deifel, who has led the Razorbacks to back-to-back SEC regular-season titles, then turned and introduced a trio of younger girls who appeared to be recruits. Pittman shook each of their hands before going through the rest of his pregame duties.
Social media posts later revealed those recruits to be middle infielder Ella McDowell, right-handed pitcher Cameryn Harrison and outfielder Ashtyn Reichardt. They are ranked No. 3, No. 8 and No. 28 overall in the Class of 2024 by Extra Inning Softball. All three are from Texas and play for the Impact Gold Jackson 18U travel ball team.
It was yet another example of how much the coaches at Arkansas respect and like each other, which can’t be said at some other places in the SEC. Pittman also seems to have genuine admiration for Deifel and the job she’s done since being hired in 2015.
“When I was here the last time, their program was worse than our program when I got back, and then look what she’s done,” Pittman said after Deifel signed an extension that will keep her at Arkansas through 2027. “It’s an inspiration. It’s an inspiration to all of us coaches. She is the salt of the Earth, she is a wonderful person and I’m ecstatic for her and really, more importantly, the kids that she coaches that she’s going to be here at Arkansas.”
Taking over a perennial cellar dweller in the brutal SEC, Deifel has turned the Razorbacks into a bonafide top-10 program. They won a share of the regular-season title in 2021 and followed it up by winning it outright in 2022 before winning the SEC Tournament and hosting a super regional for the second time — all program firsts.
Arkansas Football Visitors
Sam Pittman had plenty of his own recruits to entertain last Saturday, as wide receiver commit Davion Dozier was in town for his official visit and several other commitments made their way to Fayetteville on unofficial visits for the game.
North Little Rock defensive end commit Quincy Rhodes Jr. didn’t have to travel far, as he was already in town because the Charging Wildcats played at Fayetteville High the night before, and neither did the Hasz brothers, as Luke and Dylan led Bixby to a dominant win at Springdale Har-Ber, but the others had much longer trips.
Bentonville offensive lineman Joey Su’a was in attendance after playing at Conway the previous night, while linebacker Carson Dean made the trip from Texas, cornerback Dallas Young and safety TJ Metcalf traveled from Alabama, and defensive tackle Stephen Johnson and RJ Johnson made the trip from Georgia.
Arguably the most notable football recruit at the game was defensive end Kavion Henderson, the No. 1 player from Alabama in the 2024 class, who tagged along with Young. Arkansas has put itself in a nice spot with Henderson, but landing his commitment when he announces on Nov. 6 will be difficult after Alabama extended an offer the night before the Cincinnati game.
There were also several younger in-state prospects at the game, including two of the top 2024 recruits in Arkansas — defensive ends Charleston Collins out of Little Rock Mills and TJ Lindsey out of Bryant — and a top 2025 recruit in defensive back Omarion Robinson out of Little Rock Parkview. All three have offers from the Razorbacks.
Other visitors included a pair of quarterbacks — 2024 three-star Jack Patterson from Mississippi, 2023 unrated Cole Feuerbacher from Missouri — as well as Bixby 2026 linebacker Cord Nolan, who tagged along with the Hasz brothers, and 2024 athlete Tevis Metcalf, who tagged along with his older brother.
One big visitor on tap for this weekend’s game against South Carolina is Fletcher Westphal, a four-star offensive lineman from Virginia.
On the basketball front, Eric Musselman and the Razorbacks hosted 2024 five-star point guard Jase Richardson on an unofficial visit. He is the son of former NBA standout Jason Richardson, who actually played for Musselman at Golden State.
Missouri Makes Push in the Natural State
Considering its head coach is from Arkansas and it shares a border with the state, it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that Missouri spends some of its recruiting efforts in Missouri. That was on display this week when the Tigers extended multiple offers to prospects in the state.
On Monday, Little Rock Mills defensive end Charleston Collins and Bryant defensive end TJ Lindsey each reported offers from Missouri. They were offered by the Razorbacks in April and June, respectively, and have numerous big-time offers.
Things have been a little bit slower for Malvern offensive lineman Vinny Winters, who was offered by Arkansas in February 2021, but the 6-foot-4, 305-pound athlete reported an offer from Missouri on Tuesday.
Missouri has had success in the Natural State before, but not since Alma native Eliah Drinkwitz took over the program. Under current Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom, the Tigers actually signed four players from Arkansas in a two-year span: running back Damarea Crockett from Little Rock Christian and defensive tackle Markell Utsey from Little Rock Parkview in 2016, then quarterback Taylor Powell and defensive tackle Akial Byers from Fayetteville in 2017. They also brought in wide receiver Barrett Banister from Fayetteville as a walk-on in the 2017 class and he’s since earned a scholarship.
QB Shines In Front of Arkansas Football Coaches
With head coach Sam Pittman and tight ends coach Dowell Loggains looking on from the sideline, quarterback Walker White put on a show in a big win last Friday.
Playing just down the road from the UA campus, the 2024 four-star prospect led Little Rock Christian to a dominant 49-14 win at Shiloh Christian in Springdale by accounting for six total touchdowns.
White threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 87 yards and three scores, proving his designation as a dual-threat quarterback.
“I knew they were going to be there,” White told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette afterward. “I just tried to stay zoned in. I saw coach Sam Pittman on the sideline and, honestly, I forgot he was even there.”
Despite the final score, it was actually a close game until Shiloh was stuffed on fourth down at the goal line just before halftime to preserve Little Rock Christian’s 21-14 lead. The Warriors then pulled away in the second half.
In-State Sophomore Pulls a Joe Adams
A lot of attention, and rightfully so, has been focused on 2026 quarterback Kane Archer from Greenwood when it comes to younger prospects in Arkansas. After all, he already has double-digit FBS offers, including from the Razorbacks, and just led the Bulldogs to a dramatic 18-point comeback in a rivalry game capped by a Hail Mary.
However, the 2025 class also has a few notable recruits. Despite just being sophomores, Little Rock Parkview defensive back Omarion Robinson and Shiloh Christian quarterback Garyt Odom already have offers from Arkansas.
Another name to keep an eye on, though, is Beebe running back Kiandrea Barker. He was offered by Pitt as and eighth grader and has since added Florida State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Penn State, Purdue and SMU to his list of offers.
It’s easy to see why schools are intrigued by Barker, who is a top-100 national recruit in the 2025 class, as well as being the top sophomore recruit in the state, according to 247Sports. Through two games with the Badgers, he has racked up 325 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns on just nine total touches.
That includes a 57-yard touchdown run in last week’s win over Newport, as well as this 75-yard kickoff return that brings back memories of another talented in-state product from central Arkansas: Joe Adams.
More Accolades for Arkansas Baseball’s 2023 Class
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn went out of his way to thank Best of Arkansas Sports for its story about his historic 2023 recruiting class Wednesday morning.[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”mgRnKWNa” upload-date=”2022-09-08T17:20:02.000Z” name=”Dave Van Horn thanks Best of Arkansas Sports” description=”Arkansas baseball head coach Dave Van Horn thanks Best of Arkansas Sports’ Andrew Hutchinson for his story on the Razorbacks’ 2023 recruiting class.” player-type=”static”]
The veteran coach should certainly be proud of the group he’s put together, which continues to rack up accolades. Three members of the top-ranked class made USA Baseball’s 2022 18U National Team when the 20-man roster came out last Friday.
Not surprisingly, shortstop Aidan Miller — the crown jewel of the class as the No. 4 overall player in the country, according to Perfect Game — made the roster, as did left-hander Adam Hachman (No. 81) and outfielder Kendall George (No. 95).
Perhaps the most incredible stat to come from the 18U National Team roster announcement, though, is the fact that all but one of the 20 players chosen are committed to SEC teams.
Vanderbilt leads the way with four commitments on the team, while LSU and Auburn are tied with Arkansas with three and Florida has two. Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M each have one commitment on the team.
The lone outlier is left-hander Blake Dickerson, a Virginia native committed to Virginia Tech.
Other Notable Arkansas Recruiting Highlights
2023 quarterback commit Malachi Singleton from Georgia:
2023 tight end Shamar Easter from Ashdown:
2023 linebacker commit Brad Spence from Texas:
2023 defensive tackle commit Stephen Johnson from Georgia:
2026 quarterback target Kane Archer from Greenwood:
More coverage of Arkansas recruiting from BoAS…