Arkansas Commits McWhorter, Lockett Could Herald New Trend in College Football Recruiting

Tay Lockett, Bear McWhorter, Arkansas football, Arkansas recruiting
photo credit: Twitter/lockett_tay / Twitter/BearMcWhorter

Three days after landing its first, Arkansas football added another commitment in the 2026 class Sunday night when Bear McWhorter went public with his decision.

The heralded offensive lineman out of Cass High School in Cartersville, Ga., chose the Razorbacks from an impressive offer sheet that included most of the SEC and several other national powers.

He joins a 2026 class that now spans coast-to-coast, as the first commitment was defensive back Tay Lockett out of St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif., on Thursday.

Last season, the 6-foot-4, 297-pound lineman played more than 500 snaps at left tackle and didn’t allow a sack. That helped him land on the MaxPreps Freshman All-America team alongside Lockett. They both enter this year as Preseason Sophomore All-Americans.

Also like Lockett, McWhorter has been heavily recruited even as a sophomore. Penn State was his first offer last August and he’s now up to 20, including the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and several other Power Five programs.

In addition to the 2026 pair, Arkansas football also has two commitments in the 2025 class, but they are much closer to home. In fact, they’re both in-state prospects – quarterback Grayson Wilson from Central Arkansas Christian and safety Marcus Wimberly from Bauxite.

The Razorbacks are still pursuing 2024 recruits as well. As it stands now, their 18-man class is knocking on the door of unanimous top-20 status. It’s ranked as high as No. 17 by 247Sports and as low as No. 24 by On3. In the two rankings that combine the major services, though, Arkansas checks in at No. 20 in the On3 Consensus and No. 21 in the 247Sports Composite.

Another Early Commitment for Arkansas Football…

This is the second-earliest Arkansas football commitment over a span of at least 26 cycles, and possibly ever, with Tay Lockett a few days before being the earliest.

Prior to Lockett and Bear McWhorter, the earliest pledge the Razorbacks had received during that span was from Braylen Russell in the current 2024 class. He originally committed in November of his sophomore year, but backed off a year later and re-committed this summer.

On top of that, they were just the ninth and 10th players in the Class of 2026 to announce their college decisions. Miami (Fla.) is the only other school that has multiple commitments in the class, with the other six headed to Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina and USC.

Unlike in baseball and softball, prospects committing so early in the process has traditionally been pretty rare in college football. That has been especially true for big-time programs that can afford to wait and be picky with whom they recruit.

However, there appears to be a growing trend of high school kids announcing their decisions earlier and earlier, with the blue bloods seemingly leading the charge.

In the 2025 class, Georgia has a nation-leading six commitments. It is followed by Alabama and Oklahoma, which have five apiece, while Oregon and LSU each have four.

It’s unclear exactly why that’s the case, but Sam Pittman said he has noticed that the Razorbacks are “much further ahead” than ever before and speculated that it has to do with the early signing period.

He estimated that as many as half of the teams get all of their recruiting done by the December date and then shift their focus to future classes. Arkansas signed just one player – Ashdown tight end Shamar Easter – this February.

It also helps that there is no worry about Pittman leaving for another school, as he’s been very vocal about Arkansas being his dream job and that it’ll be his final stop.

“I think (with) everything pushing up, you’ll start seeing that – two and three years ahead guys trying to solidify their spot, especially if they were able to go around the country and see what they like,” Pittman said. “And then I guess a lot of it has to do with stability of coaches and things of that nature if you can sell that.”

…Another Solid Commitment

Arkansas officially entered the race for Bear McWhorter when it became his sixth offer on Jan. 18. However, he has been on the Razorbacks’ radar much longer than that.

When he was just 13 and going into his eighth grade year, McWhorter drew national headlines for the billboard his father paid for on Interstate 49 that read, “COACH PITTMAN, I WANT TO BE A HOG.”

As long as he was a legitimate prospect worthy of Arkansas recruiting, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that McWhorter would end up picking the Razorbacks. Not only did he take out that billboard, but he made numerous trips to Fayetteville over the last two years.

Barring a coaching change between now and 2026, it seems like he is about as solid of a commitment as can be.

The same can be said of Tay Lockett. Even though he lives in California, his mother is from the Natural State and he still has a lot of family in central Arkansas.

Similar to Bumper Pool, who was a four-star recruit from Texas, Lockett grew up cheering for the Razorbacks and has posted several photos of himself wearing Arkansas gear as a child. In one, he’s even throwing a “horns down.”

Considering both of them are still more than two years away from signing a letter of intent and the fact that they’re widely expected to be at least high four-star recruits, it’d be easy for fans to scoff at the idea of them “committing” when it’s so common for kids to de-commit and flip.

However, their backgrounds indicate that fans shouldn’t worry too much about McWhorter or Lockett.

Check out some highlights of new Arkansas football commit Bear McWhorter:


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