Tavion Wallace on the Scheme He and T-Will Cooked Up to Shock the World

Tavion Wallace

The way things had been trending, Arkansas football desperately needed a win on the recruiting trail. It got arguably the biggest of Sam Pittman’s tenure when Tavion Wallace committed Tuesday evening.

To say the four-star linebacker caught the college football world by surprise when he picked the Razorbacks over the Florida, Georgia and Florida State football programs would be putting it lightly.

After all, Wallace is a top-50 overall recruit out of Wayne County High in Jesup, Ga., and was being recruited by the biggest programs in the country. The fact he visited the three regional powers among his finalists after his official visit to Fayetteville makes the choice all the more unlikely.

Tavion Wallace Spurns Florida State Football

Reading the tea leaves, it seemed like he was destined to end up with Florida State. All seven expert predictions across 247Sports, On3 and Rivals had Wallace joining the Seminoles. One of those experts was Steve Wiltfong, whose predictions – first at 247Sports and now at On3 – have long been viewed as precursors to an actual commitment.

Wiltfong has a 94.8% hit rate since joining On3’s staff. That website has also developed a Recruiting Prediction Machine, which spit out a 93.5% chance for Wallace to pick Florida State.

As recently as Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before the linebacker was set to announce his decision, Zach Blostein – a Florida State football recruiting reporter for Noles247 on the 247Sports network – chose to stick with his prediction.

“The three schools of note here are FSU, UGA and UF,” Blostein wrote. “I’ve heard conflicting things over the last 24 hours about whether Georgia or Florida is who the Seminoles are primarily battling here. Nevertheless…I feel like the Seminoles have done the best job from start to finish.”

None of the 221 words in Blostein’s explanation for his pick were “Arkansas” or “Razorbacks” or “Hogs.” But that’s not to pile on this particular reporter. Remember On3’s “Recruiting Prediction Machine”? It gave Arkansas a 1% chance to land Wallace.

Even veterans on the Arkansas recruiting beat acknowledged the surprising nature of Wallace’s decision, with HawgSports’ Danny West sharing on Twitter that “analysts from everywhere” were texting him simply, “Wow.” He described it as a “stone cold stunner” pulled off by defensive coordinator Travis Williams, who years ago had recruited Wallace’s older brother Trevin Wallace.

Given that context, Williams’ 37-second celebration might have undersold the moment:

It appears that misdirection was by design.

For the last few weeks following his visit to Arkansas and chats with Travis Williams, whom he’s known for nearly five years, Wallace had essentially been putting out a smoke screen. He made it seem like Florida State was in the lead. Nobody on the outside could get a read on where he was actually headed. (He didn’t even tell his dad his destination until Sunday.)

“Little did they know me and T-Will was cooking up something that they weren’t prepared for,” he told On3 recruiting analyst Phillip Dukes with a chuckle on Tuesday night.

“You got me!” Dukes replied, explaining how Wallace gave no clues about his eventual destination in the interview they had conducted just the week before.

It was a “Gotcha” moment that played right into Arkansas’ favor, but left plenty of Florida State football fans disgruntled and jaded by the whole process.

“These kids make it hard to care about recruiting,” Seminoles fan @fsu5452 wrote on YouTube. “Good for him if he got paid (if that was a factor), but don’t understand the point of watching the interviews, recruiting coverage, and following this when these kid just lie through their teeth or change their minds at the last minute because of NIL.”

What it Means for Arkansas Football

Prior to Tuesday’s news, Arkansas’ efforts in the 2025 recruiting class left a lot to be desired.

There’s no beating around the bush: the Razorbacks were struggling. They had already seen two of the top three in-state recruits – Carius Curne (LSU) and Marcus Wimberly (Oklahoma) – decommit and flip to bordering SEC rivals, with the third seemingly trending toward leaving the state, as well.

Arkansas did land nine commitments in the month of June, bringing the class to 15 total players, but almost all of them were three-star recruits. In fact, only one of them — offensive lineman Connor Howes from Florida — was a four-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite.

He was the first such recruit in Arkansas’ 2025 class, with quarterback Grayson Wilson being the lone four-star commit on Rivals. (Wilson has since been elevated to four-star status in the Composite, as well.) That led to the Razorbacks checking in at No. 39 in the 247Sports Composite class rankings, which was pretty low in the SEC pecking order.

As soon as Tavion Wallace announced his decision, he immediately became the top recruit in the class. With his addition, Arkansas’ class jumped up a whopping 15 spots to No. 24 nationally.

Not only is he significant in the 2025 class, but Wallace is also one of the best recruits the Razorbacks have ever landed. His 0.970 rating in the 247Sports Composite makes him the 11th-best recruit to commit to Arkansas out of high school in the metric’s history (since 2001).

Making Arkansas Recruiting History

Of the 10 higher-ranked recruits than Wallace in UA history, only three of them hail from outside the Natural State: Ahmad Carroll (also a Georgia native), Alex Collins and Lawrence Richardson. 

There is a long time between now and Dec. 4, which marks the beginning of the three-day early signing period. Wallace’s rating will likely change, but the bigger concern for Arkansas is getting to the finish line with him still on board.

That likely requires at least a good 2024 campaign, as Sam Pittman enters the season with a scorching hot seat and under a lot of pressure to win in the first year of the 16-team era of the SEC. If the Razorbacks don’t win enough, Pittman could get fired and it’d be hard to hold on to such a talented player.

Indeed, some Georgia football fans are already licking their chops for a potential flip.

“If we decide we want him late in the cycle, he should be a flip candidate imo,” wrote one such fan on the UGASports.com message board.

A staff member on the site, Lance McCurley, followed up that comment by saying Georgia “isn’t out of this” and that a flip “could potentially happen, especially if UGA loses an LB commit.”

The one way to prevent that from happening is win enough games to prove Arkansas is a worthy destination.

For now, though, the Razorbacks can relish in Wallace shocking the world and, for now at least, almost single-handily changing the trajectory of the Hogs’ 2025 recruiting class.

2025 Arkansas Football Commitments

Here’s a look at the Razorbacks’ 2025 recruiting class so far, which now stands at 16 players…

  • K Evan Noel – Bay Saint Louis (Miss.) St. Stanislaus
  • QB Grayson Wilson – Conway (Ark.)
  • ATH Markeylin Batton – Atlanta (Texas)
  • LB Jayden Shelton – Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff
  • DB Taijh Overton – Mobile (Ala.) Williamson
  • WR Kamare Williams – West Palm Beach (Fla.) Palm Beach Central
  • OL Blake Cherry – Owasso (Okla.)
  • ATH Quentin Murphy – Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview
  • OL Kash Courtney – Carthage (Texas)
  • OL Connor Howes – Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola
  • DT JaQuentin Madison – Alpharetta (Ga.)
  • DE Keiundre Johnson – Terrell (Texas)
  • DE Caleb Bell – Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton
  • WR Antonio Jordan – Warren (Ark.)
  • DE Trent Sellers – Mobile (Ala.) Faith Academy
  • LB Tavion Wallace – Jesup (Ga.) Wayne County


Tavion Wallace talks more about his decision below, including a funny story about calling a shirtless Sam Pittman with the good news:

Yes, we are shocked too, as you can see from the lede here:

For more on Arkansas football from BoAS:

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