With respect to Arkansas football snapping its three-game skid at BYU, the game of the week — and possibly the year — took place in Knoxville, where Tennessee knocked off Alabama with a last-second field goal and set off a wild celebration.
The Volunteers are enjoying the season the Razorbacks were hoping for, ending their long losing streak against the Crimson Tide that dated back to 2006 and starting 6-0 for the first time since 1998 with a Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback.
Unlike the other orange ’T’ school, it certainly seems as though Tennessee is “back.” While the Volunteers are in the SEC East and don’t play Arkansas on an annual basis any more, that could impact the Razorbacks’ efforts on the recruiting trail.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Tennessee routinely crossed the Mississippi River and raided the top players from the Natural State. According to Best of Arkansas Sports’ research, the Volunteers signed eight players out of Arkansas between 1997-2005, including at least one every year from 2001-05.
Before sending the likes of Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Chris Gragg and Treylon Burks to Fayetteville, the small town of Warren in south Arkansas produced a trio of Tennessee signees: Bret Smith and Roshaun Fellows in 2003 and Ricardo Kemp in 2005. Slick Shelley out of Fort Smith Southside was also part of that 2005 class.
Jonesboro sent Reggie Coleman (1997) and Greg Jones (2002) to Tennessee and Augusta produced James Turner (2004), but most notably, Clarendon’s Cedric Houston signed with the Volunteers in 2001. (Houston is now an assistant coach at Clarendon High.)
As Tennessee slipped from relevance in college football, though, the Razorbacks flipped the script. In recent years, they’ve gone into the Volunteer State and landed heralded recruits — most notably wide receiver-turned-tight end Trey Knox.
More recently, Arkansas signed three Tennessee natives in 2021, defensive backs Anthony Brown and Jaylen Lewis and offensive lineman Patrick Kutas, and have one committed in 2022, four-star offensive lineman Luke Brown.
Considering it’s a border state, head coach Sam Pittman would probably like those recruiting efforts to continue. According to Rivals’ database, the Razorbacks have offered 10 players from Tennessee in the 2024 class.
Included among that group are three prospects who have enough interest in Arkansas that they have visited Fayetteville: four-star wide receiver Brandon Heyward from Oak Ridge, three-star wide receiver Ondre Evans from Nashville and three-star wide receiver Markeis Barrett from Knoxville.
However, each of them has since checked out the Volunteers, as well, with Barrett in attendance for the big win over Alabama and Evans tweeting about Tennessee after the game.
A resurgent Tennessee program, especially one that competes for an SEC title and College Football Playoff spot, could make it a lot harder for Pittman and his staff to make headway in the state and perhaps even get players of Knox’s caliber in the future.
Trio of Arkansas Football Commits Selected
Another state the Razorbacks have hit hard on the recruiting trail is Alabama, with three commitments from the Yellowhammer State in the 2023 class.
Although none of them are four-star prospects, they are high three-stars and pushing for that designation. For further proof that they are good players, look no further than the state of Alabama’s 40-man roster for the 36th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
Included among the 16 SEC commits on the team are each of the future Razorbacks: wide receiver Davion Dozier, safety TJ Metcalf and cornerback Dallas Young.
Metcalf and Young come from schools — Gardendale and Pinson Valley, respectively — that have produced players who’ve participated in the prestigious game within the last two years, but Dozier is just the second player from Moody to be selected. The first was Alabama defensive end signee Larry Paul in 1997.
Other Alabama-born Razorbacks who have played in the event include defensive back Orlando Watters in 1990, running back Chrys Chukwuma and linebacker Quinton Caver in 1996, offensive lineman Zac Tubbs in 2002 and defensive tackle Darius Philon in 2011 (more about Philon’s cousin as a recruit below).
Arkansas Baseball Lands Another 2023 Commit
Dave Van Horn already has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2023, but even though it’s getting late in the process for college baseball, he’s still actively looking to add to it.
Last week, Best of Arkansas Sports mentioned the Razorbacks landed their 11th top-100 recruit for the class in third baseman Nazzan Zanetello from Missouri.
They followed that up by securing another somewhat local prospect, as Diego Ramos announced his commitment last Thursday. He is a right-handed pitcher from Vian, Okla., who actually played with Zanetello and fellow Arkansas commit Dylan Questad at the Area Code Games in San Diego back in August. They were each members of the White Sox roster.
Ramos also pitched in various events this summer that put him on the mound at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City and Fenway Park in Boston. At the latter of those, his fastball was 89-91 mph. More recently, though, he sat 91-94 mph while pitching for the Sandlot Baseball program in Tulsa and less than a week later, he committed to Arkansas.
Other Arkansas Recruiting Nuggets
~Fresh off a visit to Fayetteville for the Red-White Game, five-star small forward Ron Holland appears to be trending toward Arkansas. In fact, on Wednesday, HawgBeat basketball recruiting analyst Jackson Collier put in a FutureCast for the Razorbacks to land Holland. Click here (premium) to read his explanation for the pick.
~Keeping things on the hardwood, 2024 top-50 prospect Labaron Philon included Arkansas in his top eight Monday morning. The point guard out of Baker High School in Mobile, Ala., is also considering Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Kansas, Michigan, Ole Miss and Tennessee. He is a cousin of former Arkansas football standout Darius Philon.
~In-state linebacker Brian Huff, a 2024 prospect at Valley View High School in Jonesboro, picked up an offer from LSU on Tuesday. It’s the fourth Power Five program to offer him, joining Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State.
~The WWBA World Championships in baseball were earlier this month in Jupiter, Fla., and several future Razorbacks participated. Even though he’s not one of the 11 top-100 commits in the 2023 class, Texarkana’s Ty Waid was arguably the most impressive hitter at the entire event.
“What impresses me about Waid…is that he’s a big guy and (has) such a short swing,” Perfect Game VP of Player Personnel David Rawnsley said. “You can think of those big guys, they take big cuts, they’re looking for the power. He’s been so well-coached and adjusted to keeping his swing short. He’s just a solid hitter. … That’s a swing that’s going to really translate right away at the next level.”
~Another Arkansas baseball recruit worth mentioning is 2024 commit Sam Lee from Montgomery, Texas. His future is on the diamond, but the outfielder has also proven to be electric on the gridiron as a receiver and returner. Here’s a look at a couple of plays he made in Lake Creek’s 51-3 win over Rudder last week, improving to 8-0 on the season:
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