The Biggest Question Involving Arkansas’ Latest Flipped WR Commit

Zachary Taylor, Tyrone Broden, Arkansas football
photo credit: Twitter/Zachary Taylor / Craven Whitlow

Most of the post-spring additions to the 2024 Arkansas football roster have been via the transfer portal, but the Razorbacks haven’t completely abandoned traditional recruiting and recently landed a commitment from the high school ranks in Zachary Taylor.

A two-star athlete out of Yoakum, Texas, Taylor was previously committed to Army, but flipped to Arkansas on Monday during a visit to Fayetteville. Although a quarterback in high school, he’s expected to play wide receiver in college.

His late addition to the 2024 class gives the Razorbacks 17 incoming high school recruits, with the other 16 signing during the early signing period in December. Since then, the only other “traditional” recruit Arkansas has landed was JUCO running back Tyrell Reed, who signed earlier this month.

Those late additions, despite being a pair of two-star recruits, have led to the Razorbacks’ class jumping up five spots from No. 39 to No. 34 nationally on Rivals. The group is still 15th among the 16 SEC schools, but it is now closer to South Carolina at No. 31 than it is Vanderbilt at No. 40.

Arkansas is ranked slightly higher in the 247Sports Composite, checking in at No. 31 nationally, but is still 15th in the SEC, just behind Mississippi State at No. 29.

Of course, those rankings don’t factor in what has been a very large transfer portal haul for the Razorbacks. With eight more on board since the end of spring ball, they are up to 21 scholarship transfers.

The Recruitment of Zachary Taylor

Not to be confused with the long-deceased 12th president of the United States, Zachary Taylor was a two-year starting quarterback at Del Rio High School as a sophomore and junior near the Mexican border in southwest Texas. 

Coincidentally, the president Zachary Taylor paved his eventual path to the White House by successfully leading troops in battle near that same modern-day border.

The not-dead Zachary Taylor played his senior year at Yoakum High, which is about midway between San Antonio and Houston. That school also produced offensive lineman Silas Robinson, who signed with Arkansas in 2018.

It was Taylor’s ninth different school across three states as his family moved around quite a bit because of his father’s coaching career. The latest move came after Roderick Taylor was reassigned from his head coaching duties at Del Rio and accepted an assistant coaching position at Yoakum.

In his final season at Del Rio, Taylor threw for 1,852 yards and 15 touchdowns, plus added 475 yards and five scores on the ground while playing in Class 6A.

That put him on the radar for Army, which started recruiting him about the time he moved to Yoakum. He committed to the Black Knights last summer and capped his high school career by completing 90 of 160 passes for 1,376 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 342 yards and six scores on 91 attempts.

Taylor went through a National Signing Day ceremony in December, but did not sign a National Letter of Intent because the service academies do not participate in the NLI program. Instead, he likely signed a certificate of commitment. Army — like Navy and Air Force — don’t announce their signing class until the summer.

When the Black Knights finally release the list of their signees, it won’t include Taylor because he backed off his pledge and flipped to the Razorbacks.

He is the latest wide receiver to flip to Arkansas after previously being committed to a Group of Five program. The Razorbacks also flipped South Florida transfer Khafre Brown from Charlotte earlier this month and low three-star recruit Krosse Johnson from Louisiana-Lafayette in December.

The other wide receivers in the 2024 class are three-star recruit CJ Brown from Bentonville and Texas A&M transfer Jordan Anthony. A pair of four-star recruits were previously set to play for the Razorbacks, but Courtney Crutchfield flipped to Missouri and Ashton Bethel-Roman was released from his NLI so he could instead sign with Texas A&M.

What it Means for Arkansas Football

Despite playing quarterback in high school, Zachary Taylor is expected to convert to wide receiver at Arkansas.

That’s not an unusual position change, as it’s relatively common for top athletes to play quarterback in high school. In recent years, Jarrod Barnes and De’Vion Warren were high school quarterbacks-turned-college wide receivers for the Razorbacks. Even Treylon Burks played some quarterback at Warren High School.

(Quarterbacks have also been known to move to the other side of the ball, as Jalen Catalon was a high school quarterback before becoming a standout safety for the Razorbacks.)

What head coach Sam Pittman and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino are likely intrigued by is Taylor’s speed. He reports a 4.48-second 40-yard dash time, as well as a 10.44-second time in the 100 meters.

Taylor also ran track in high school and was part of Yoakum’s 3A state champion 4×100-meter relay team, reportedly running a 10.25-second split, plus helped Yoakum finish runner up in the 4×200-meter relay.

Speed has clearly been a point of emphasis for Arkansas as it has searched for under-the-radar type of receivers to add depth to the room.

Dazmin James and Krosse Johnson were state champion sprinters in North Carolina and Louisiana, respectively, before becoming late additions to the 2023 and 2024 classes. Texas A&M transfer Jordan Anthony actually competes for the Razorbacks in track, while South Florida transfer Khafre Brown’s top trait is speed.

It also helps that he’s listed at 6-foot-4, fulfilling another desire for the Razorbacks when it comes to receivers – length. Taylor will be the fifth scholarship receiver on the roster who stands at least 6-foot-3.

Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Taylor and whether or not he’ll prove to be a solid “diamond in the rough” find for the Razorbacks is his weight.

Listed at just 170 pounds, he is one of the skinnier wide receivers Arkansas has had in recent memory. The closest comparison on the current roster might be Tyrone Broden. The second-year transfer from Bowling Green is just 198 pounds despite standing 6-foot-7.

Of course, Broden is a super senior in his sixth year of college football. Taylor is just an incoming freshman, so he has time to bulk up and get strong enough to survive the grind that is the SEC.

The key will be doing that while maintaining his elite speed, which can be a delicate balancing act. Running back Rocket Sanders bulked up last offseason and even when healthy didn’t seem to have the same speed as he’d had the season before.

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Check out some highlights of new Arkansas football commit Zachary Taylor from his senior year at Yoakum High:

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