Arkansas football currently has 12 commitments from players in the 2023 class who are considered four-star prospects on at least one of the major recruiting sites.
What makes the group special and could help the Razorbacks to a rare top-20 finish, though, is the next tier of players. Another nine commitments — or all but two members of the 23-man class — have high three-star ratings from one or more of the sites.
The early signing period is less than four months away and traditional National Signing Day isn’t until Feb. 1, so any of them could see their stock increase enough with a strong senior season to earn that coveted fourth star.
Perhaps no one is closer to getting that bump than TJ Metcalf, the safety commit from Alabama. In fact, Rivals national analyst Ryan Wright actually tabbed him the three-star in his region closest to getting elevated and said he’s a “headliner” in a loaded class for the state.
“Metcalf is a true free safety who can cover from sideline to sideline and come down the alley punishing running backs,” Wright wrote earlier this month. “Taking on 6A Alabama offenses, Metcalf gets tested against quality competition. Another strong season roaming the field could see the Arkansas Razorback commit move up into four-star status.”
Pinson Valley High School is already off to a 2-0 start and Metcalf’s performance in the latest victory was another step toward earning that extra star.
In a defensive battle, he led the Indians to a 21-13 win over McAdory last Friday by recovering a fumble and locking up the Yellow Jackets’ top receiver to force a turnover that sealed the victory.
The fumble — which Metcalf also forced, according to AL.com — set up the first score of the game, as his teammates turned it into a first-quarter touchdown.
McAdory’s last-gasp effort to tie it up and force overtime on its final drive was thwarted by an interception by Amari Thomas, but according to Bobby Mathews of the Trussville Tribune, it was Metcalf who made the play happen by shutting down JaCorey Whitted, a 2024 tight end who already has a handful of SEC offers.
“With McAdory threatening on the Indians’ side of the 50, Metcalf locked up Whitted on the right side one-on-one, refusing to give the big receiver a chance to make a break on the ball,” Mathews wrote, “and Thomas — normally a wide receiver — made a diving catch at the three-yard line on fourth down to end the Yellow Jacket threat.”
Metcalf’s film from the win — which can be watched below — also shows the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder running down from his safety position to hit ball carriers at or near the line of scrimmage, including on a couple of plays in the shadow of his own end zone.
It’s worth mentioning that Metcalf’s brother, Tevis, came up big in the victory, as well. Before the fourth-down stop, McAdory also had the ball with a chance to tie it up midway through the fourth quarter, but the younger Metcalf intercepted a pass in the end zone.
Listed as an athlete by recruiting services, Metcalf is a cornerback for the Indians who has an offer from the Razorbacks, in addition to a pair of HBCUs at the FCS level — Jackson State and Alabama A&M.
Check out Arkansas safety commit TJ Metcalf’s highlights from last Friday:
Arkansas Football Fans Have Options Friday Night
Those in Northwest Arkansas who don’t have any particular ties to a specific high school and would rather watch games with Arkansas football implications will have options this Friday.
North Little Rock at Fayetteville
The two traditional powers in Class 7A are coming off Week 1 losses and are ranked right next to each other by Hooten’s Arkansas Football, with Fayetteville – coached by former Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick – at No. 6 and North Little Rock right behind it at No. 7 out of 16 teams in the classification. However, that’s not what makes this game intriguing to Arkansas fans. Instead, it’s an opportunity to see North Little Rock defensive end and 2023 high three-star commit Quincy Rhodes Jr. play just down the road from his future home.
Bixby (Okla.) at Springdale Har-Ber
Last week, four-star wide receiver Micah Tease was in Northwest Arkansas with his Tulsa Booker T. Washington team to play Bentonville West. Even though he grabbed seven passes for 83 yards, the Hornets fell to the Wolverines 28-7. This week, another four-star prospect from Oklahoma come to town, as tight end Luke Hasz and his Bixby squad travel to Springdale Har-Ber. Hasz’s twin brother, Dylan, is a safety for the Spartans and also committed to Arkansas, so it would be a chance to see a pair of future Razorbacks who play most of their games two or so hours away.
Little Rock Christian at Shiloh Christian
This game is down a classification or two from the previous two, but it might be the best game in the area. Little Rock Christian is No. 5 in 6A and Shiloh Christian is No. 3 in 5A. Although both teams have quarterbacks with Arkansas offers, only one of them is likely to play. Walker White is a highly regarded four-star prospect in the 2024 class at Little Rock Christian who has numerous Power Five offers, with the Razorbacks pulling the trigger back in April. The son of Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom, Garyt Odom has an offer in the 2025 class, but he’s currently playing behind Eli Wisdom, a senior with a handful of FBS offers.
Four-Star OL Target Delivers Pancake Block
With 23 players already committed, Arkansas football is pretty much done with its 2023 class because it wants to have room to pursue players out of the portal this offseason.
However, there is one big — literally — target still available in four-star prospect Vysen Lang. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman included the Razorbacks in his top six over the summer, along with Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Texas.
Multiple recruiting experts, both national and local, have predicted Lang will ultimately pick Arkansas, joining fellow four-star offensive line commits Luke Brown and Paris Patterson and high three-star commit Joey Su’a.
Of course, as Arkansas fans know, nothing is official until he not only announces it, but also puts pen to paper on signing day. It’s still fun to think about the possibility beforehand, though, especially when he’s getting to the second level and pancaking guys like this poor safety:
Arkansas Baseball Commit Does Johnny Football Impression
He’s committed to play baseball for the Razorbacks, but Martavius Thomas is also a talented quarterback at Camden Fairview.
That actually may be an understatement, as he put up video game numbers on the gridiron last season for the Cardinals. Thomas completed 64.9% of his passes fro 3,257 yards and 34 touchdowns, while adding another 882 yards and six scores on 114 carries.
His 4,139 total yards and 40 touchdowns — which included a monster 514-yard, 7-touchdown first half in a blowout win over DeQueen — helped Camden Fairview go 10-2. He followed that up with a junior campaign on the diamond in which he hit .400 and went 16 for 16 on stolen base attempts for the Cardinals before spending the summer playing for the touted Arkansas Sticks organization.
Now back to playing football, it looks like Thomas picked up where he left off. Although his team came up short in a 41-21 loss to Arkadelphia, he still racked up 269 all-purpose yards and three rushing touchdowns — including this spectacular play reminiscent of former Texas A&M standout and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
He somehow managed to avoid numerous tackles to tie the game at 21-21 late in the second quarter.
Layden Blocker Finally Gets 5th Star…by Default
All of the major recruiting services have updated their basketball rankings to reflect this summer’s travel ball circuit and Arkansas commitment Layden Blocker has finally been bumped to a five-star prospect.
Last week, we wrote that Rivals and 247Sports have each moved Blocker up to No. 29 in their rankings, while keeping him as a four-star. ESPN has since updated its rankings and now has him at No. 22, the highest four-star prospect on its list.
Despite being a four-star recruit on each of those sites, Blocker is now a five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite that combines those three rankings. With a .9902 grade, he checks in at No. 25 overall.
This news comes on the heels of a performance at Chris Paul’s CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Los Angeles that led to one anonymous NBA scout to say he was the best player among the 25 elite prospects at the event, according to Hogville.
Other Notable Arkansas Recruiting Highlights
2023 DE commit Kaleb James from Mansfield (Texas)
2023 DE commit Quincy Rhodes Jr. from North Little Rock (Ark.)
2023 ATH (WR) commit Micah Tease from Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington
Stats: 7 receptions, 83 yards, 1 carry, 11 yards
2023 WR commit Davion Dozier from Moody (Ala.)
Stats: 7 receptions, 204 yards, 3 touchdowns
2023 OL commit Joey Su’a from Bentonville (Ark.)
2024 five-star DE target Colin Simmons from Duncanville (Texas)
2024 ATH (CB) target Tevis Metcalf from Pinson Valley (Ala.)
Read more about the Arkansas baseball recruiting class for 2023, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country…
More coverage of Arkansas recruiting from BoAS…