Arkansas Held Off Malzahn. But Now “Primetime,” Saban Are Coming After Top Hog Commits.

Deion Sanders, Arkansas football, Arkansas recruiting
photo credit: Twitter / Colorado Athletics

It sounds like Sam Pittman and Kendal Briles can breathe a little easier when it comes to the quarterback of the future for Arkansas football.

Four-star dual-threat quarterback Malachi Singleton has been committed to the Razorbacks since April, but that didn’t stop Gus Malzahn from still going after him hard and trying to get him to flip to UCF.

Arkansas had to sweat it out a bit, as Singleton took a pair of unofficial visits to Orlando — where his uncle played college ball — and some recruiting experts put him on flip watch, but following his official visit to Fayetteville, those worries have subsided.

“I’m locked in for sure,” Singleton said after the visit. “I had to sit down with my family and just look over everything, just pick the right situation for me, so I don’t think it was too hard a decision.”

That should be music to the ears of Arkansas football fans, who — while excited about the return of KJ Jefferson — have understandably been concerned about the depth at quarterback.

None of the Razorbacks’ last three quarterback signees are still playing the position at Arkansas and losing Singleton would have made Jefferson the only scholarship quarterback currently set to be on the 2023 roster.

They’re going after North Carolina transfer and Arkansas native Jacolby Criswell in the transfer portal, but losing Singleton — to Arkansas native Malzahn, of all coaches — would have been a pretty tough pill to swallow.

In a perfect world, Jefferson will be the starter next season, with Criswell serving as the backup and Singleton learning the ropes as a true freshman. Then, in 2024, Criswell and Singleton could battle it out for the starting job.

“Definitely something I like,” Singleton said about Jefferson’s decision to return next season. “(He’s an) experienced guy I can learn from. He’s really good and does a lot of great things on the field. So everything I can take into my game, I’m doing to do that.”

Hogs Now Must Hold Off Other Poachers

Malachi Singleton is just one of many four-star recruits in an Arkansas class currently ranked 15th nationally by Rivals and 247Sports.

If the Razorbacks can get them all to sign on the dotted line during the early signing period, which is Dec. 21-23, it would easily be their best class since Sam Pittman took over.

“I think our class is really good,” Singleton said. “I think it’s going to be one of the greats to be honest. I think we have a lot of good pieces in our class. We have a whole group chat where we all talk in there almost everyday. We’re already close, so that’s a good thing.”

However, getting to signing day with the class intact won’t be easy. Holding off Gus Malzahn to keep Singleton is just the start of potential poachers trying to pluck away Arkansas football commitments.

Deion “Primetime” Sanders — who was brutally honest in his plan to rebuild Colorado’s program — has extended offers to three of Arkansas commits: four-star safety TJ Metcalf from Alabama, four-star offensive lineman Paris Patterson from Illinois and four-star athlete Micah Tease from Oklahoma. Each of them shared the offer on Twitter.

Sanders has made no bones about his intentions to revamp Colorado’s roster, telling his new players: “Those of you that we don’t run off, we’re going to try to make you quit.” Publicly, he’s discussed filling those vacancies with about 10 incoming transfers from his former team, Jackson State, but it stands to reason he would try to land some blue-chip recruits alongside them as well.

Meanwhile, there’s four-star defensive end Quincy Rhodes Jr., an in-state product who’s said he’s “solid” to the Razorbacks. He previously left the door open to other options and recently tweeted about an offer from Oklahoma. Four-star cornerback Jaylon Braxton picked up an offer from UCLA at the end of November and publicly shared the news, too.

While none of those blue-chip recruits are likely to follow Barry Odom, the recently departed Razorback assistant, to UNLV, Odom’s departure does make it easier for other schools to swoop in and try to steal Arkansas’ defensive recruits before the earlier signing period.

There have been reports that he may not be the only assistant coach leaving the Razorbacks, as tight ends coach Dowell Loggains is a candidate to become South Carolina’s offensive coordinator. That could potentially jeopardize Arkansas’ trio of four-star tight end commits — after all, Nick Saban is already coming hard after Luke Hasz.

Considering how close he is with Odom, linebackers coach Michael Scherer is another coach to keep an eye on, especially with three talented linebackers currently committed.

Other Arkansas Recruiting Nuggets

  • Wide receiver commit Davion Dozier has picked up a fourth star from both Rivals and On3, while safety commit TJ Metcalf picked up a fourth star from Rivals. The Alabama natives are the 11th and 12th players with a four-star rating from at least one of the major recruiting services in Arkansas’ 2023 class.
  • In addition to doing in-home visits with 2023 commitments, Arkansas football coaches are also on the road visiting high schools that feature some of their top targets in future classes. One such stop came on Thursday, when Arkansas — along with LSU, Oklahoma and Missouri — stopped by St. Louis University High. That’s the home of 2024 five-star wide receiver Ryan Wingo, the younger brother of former Arkansas running back Ronnie Wingo Jr.
  • In-state quarterback Walker White, the Little Rock Christian standout with numerous family ties to the Razorbacks, is one of the most heavily recruited quarterbacks in the 2024 class. He picked up a big-time offer Thursday night: Clemson.
  • Even though he backed off his pledge to the Razorbacks in October, in-state running back Braylen Russell — a four-star prospect at Benton — remains a priority in the 2024 class.
  • On the baseball front, a couple members of Arkansas’ top-ranked 2023 signing class have accepted invitations to the prestigious Super 60 Pro Showcase: shortstop Nazzan Zanetello from Missouri and left-handed pitcher Jack Smith from Alabama.


Hear Eric Musselman discuss Deion Sanders below:

Eric Musselman on Deion Sanders from The Jim Rome Show on Vimeo.

More coverage of Arkansas recruiting from BoAS…

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