With the early signing period quickly approaching, the Arkansas football coaches will be visiting many of their commitments during the two-week contact period that begins Friday.
Stops to see prospects in the upcoming classes will undoubtedly be included on their trips, but the Razorbacks are also mixing in some portal recruiting to put the finishing touches on their 2023 class.
Exactly how many transfers Arkansas brings in this offseason remains to be seen, but thanks to a recent rule change by the NCAA, Sam Pittman and his staff won’t be limited in that regard.
Previously, schools could sign only 25 total players — high school and JUCO prospects, plus transfers — in a class. That limit has been eliminated. Now the only number schools must keep in mind is the annual 85-man scholarship cap.
As things currently stand — and it’s always subject to change based on NFL Draft and transfer decisions by current players — the Razorbacks will have to bring in at least two scholarship transfers to reach that 85 number and that’s if all remaining potential super seniors choose to return.
That number increases each time a scholarship player hits the portal or declares for the draft. Best of Arkansas Sports is tracking that roster movement here.
Naturally, with names popping up all over the place, it’s easy to ponder whom Arkansas may be targeting. The portal has already opened up for FCS players and, even though it doesn’t open for the FBS until Monday, players at schools that have experienced a coaching change and graduate transfers are already in.
One such player will be on campus for an official visit this weekend, as Josh Braun is a graduate transfer from Florida. A former four-star recruit coming out of Suwannee High School in Live Oak, Fla., he actually committed to Pittman when he was the offensive line coach at Georgia and then flipped to the Gators when he took the job at Arkansas.
In three seasons at Florida, Braun played more than 800 offensive snaps and made eight starts. Most of his action has been at the two guard spots, but he did play some snaps at left tackle this season.
Braun recently discussed his interest in the Razorbacks and relationship with Pittman in an interview with HawgBeat’s Mason Choate, and it sounds like Arkansas has a legitimate shot at landing him, but he does plan to visit Florida State and others after checking out Fayetteville.
“If you look at Coach Pittman’s track record with offensive linemen, especially during his final years at Arkansas and his years at Georgia, he was churning out first round draft picks left and right on a yearly basis,” Braun said of his original commitment to Georgia. “At the time, I would’ve been foolish not to take advantage of playing for such a great offensive line coach. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Another name that has emerged is Andrew Armstrong, a wide receiver who spent the last four years at Texas A&M-Commerce — a former DII program that jumped up to the FCS level this season.
Listed at 6-foot-6, 189 pounds, he is originally out of Bishop Dunne in Dallas and caught 62 passes for 1,020 yards and 13 touchdowns in 11 games this season, his first against FCS competition. Armstrong plans to officially visit Arkansas next weekend and is already developing a relationship with wide receivers coach Kenny Guiton.
“When I’m on the phone with him or even (in) text messages, he is someone easy to talk to, like your friend or brother,” Armstrong told Hogville’s Otis Kirk. “He’s very family oriented.”
The Next Big-Time WR from Warren?
Despite the high school in Class 4A and the town having a population of less than 6,000, Warren has quite the reputation for producing SEC-caliber athletes — specifically at wide receiver.
Back in 2008, the school gave Arkansas the backbone of Bobby Petrino’s success with Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Chris Gragg. About a decade later, it produced arguably the best wide receiver in UA history in Treylon Burks. Before all of them, Bret Smith had a solid career at Tennessee.
It would be unfair to put those kind of expectations on anyone, but there may be another wide receiver coming down the Warren the pipeline. Antonio Jordan, a Class of 2025 prospect, picked up an offer from the Razorbacks this week, according to WholeHogSports.
“He’s got a chance to be really, really good,” Warren head coach Bo Hembree told WholeHogSports. “He is really good and he has a chance to be even better.”
The offer comes on the heels of a stellar sophomore season in which the 6’4″, 210 pound Jordan caught 43 passes for 1,041 yards and 14 touchdowns to help the Lumberjacks to a 12-2 season that ended with an overtime loss to Malvern in the quarterfinals of the 4A state playoffs.
Arkansas was first, but South Carolina and Florida State have since offered him, as well. Both schools have connections to the area, as the Gamecocks’ wide receivers coach is Justin Stepp, who recruited Burks to Arkansas, and the Seminoles’ head coach is Mike Norvell, who played at UCA and coached at Memphis before taking the Florida State job.
Other Arkansas Recruiting Nuggets
- In addition to Florida transfer target Josh Braun, the Razorbacks are expected to host a few commitments for official visits this weekend. Most notably, four-star quarterback Malachi Singleton will be in town. That’s good news because Gus Malzahn and UCF has been actively trying to flip him. Also set to visit are tight end Jaden Hamm and offensive lineman Joey Su’a.
- Little Rock Mills defensive end Charleston Collins, a top in-state target and four-star recruit in the 2024 class, included Arkansas in his top 12, which he released Wednesday. The list is a who’s who of college football, as it also features Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
- Four-star safety commit Jaylon Braxton, who also played offense and special teams at Frisco Lone Star, is one of five finalists for the Tom Landry Award, which is presented to the top high school football player from North Texas. He was also named the District 6-5A MVP.
More coverage of Arkansas recruiting from BoAS…