Those who have followed Arkansas recruiting for a while may feel a sense of dread after seeing the latest school to offer Walker White.
The four-star dual-threat quarterback shared Wednesday night that he had received an offer from Alabama during a phone call with Nick Saban. He plays at Little Rock Christian — the same school that once produced five-star running back Michael Dyer, who spurned the Razorbacks in favor of Auburn.
It is just the latest high-profile program to throw its hat into the ring for White, who is ranked No. 157 overall in the Class of 2024 by 247Sports. Previous offers include Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and several other Power Five schools, in addition to the home state program.
Considering his family tree is covered in cardinal and white, it’d be easy to assume he’ll follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, father, uncle and brothers by playing for the Razorbacks.
However, he’s been vocal about the fact he’s keeping his options open. He’s picked up a couple of Crystal Ball predictions for Ole Miss on 247Sports and the Crimson Tide jumping on board could further complicate things for Arkansas because of their status as the premier program in college football for the past decade and a half.
Keeping a player like White from leaving the state is always a priority for whomever the coach at Arkansas is at the time, but he is just part of what is shaping up to be a historically strong crop of in-state prospects in the Natural State.
Just behind White in the class of 2024 rankings, Benton running back Braylen Russell and Little Rock Mills defensive end Charleston Collins are also four-star prospects in the 247Sports Composite. Also knocking on the door of four-star status is Bryant defensive end TJ Lindsey.
Russell was committed to the Razorbacks for nearly a year until backing off his pledge the day after they lost to Mississippi State earlier this month. Since his initial commitment, he’s picked up offers from surging SEC programs Tennessee and Ole Miss.
Collins was actually the first 2024 in-state recruit to be offered by Alabama. Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Oregon and Penn State among others are also after his services.
Lindsey also has an impressive offer sheet that features the likes of Georgia, Notre Dame, TCU and Texas A&M. In fact, the Bulldogs extended their offer a day before Arkansas did.
Needless to say, Pittman has his work cut out for him and he knows it. He actually used the open date to get out on the road and recruit, with two of his stops before a weekend at his lake house in Hot Springs being to see Collins and Lindsey play in person Friday night. Earlier this season, he was on the sideline for one of White’s games.
To Pittman’s credit, he’s done a pretty solid job of locking up the big in-state prospects — landing all four 247Sports Composite four-star recruits in 2022 and the lone one in 2023 — but that hasn’t always been the case for Arkansas.
Comparatively speaking, the Razorbacks do a better job of keeping top talent in-state that almost any other program in the country, but memories of Stacey Wilkins (Oklahoma), K.J. Hill (Ohio State), Josh Frazier (Alabama), Altee Tenpenny (Alabama), Kiehl Frazier (Auburn), Michael Dyer (Auburn), Kodi Burns (Auburn) and others leaving for more prominent programs seem to stick in the back of fans’ minds.
Arkansas Shifts Focus of 2023 Class
He didn’t officially close the door on growing his current recruiting class, but head coach Sam Pittman implied that the Razorbacks were likely done adding high school prospects for 2023 in an interview with local media last week.
Arkansas is sitting at 23 commitments, with the most recent being wide receiver Davion Dozier from Moody, Ala., way back on July 13. That capped a wild five-week stretch in which it landed 13 recruits.
While the NCAA temporarily lifted the annual limit of 25 initial counters — the number of high school, JUCO or transfer players that can sign with a team in a given year — for the 2023 and 2024 classes, the Razorbacks will be extremely selective with remaining high school prospects and instead shift their focus to the junior college ranks and the transfer portal.
That will really heat up following the regular season, when the portal opens back up. In the meantime, though, Arkansas’ focus will be on retaining all 23 of its commitments.
The Razorbacks already held off other potential suitors for four-star tight end Luke Hasz over the summer and probably aren’t done fending off rival programs. Just last month, four-star wide receiver Micah Tease took an official visit to Texas A&M and four-star cornerback Jaylon Braxton tweeted about an offer from Tennessee.
More recently, defensive end Quincy Rhodes Jr. — an in-state product from North Little Rock — told Pig Trail Nation that he was “still solid to Arkansas,” but added that he’s “still deciding to keep my options open.”
“Recruiting’s a two-, three-year process now and hopefully we have enough of a relationship that nobody leaves us at the end,” Pittman said Wednesday. “We feel good about our class, but it’s always a concern
“Recruiting is hard work and I’m sitting right here writing notes to 2023s. We text them every week, we talk to them, so it’s just about communication and hard work and I feel like we’re doing fine there.”
The group as it’s currently constructed is ranked 15th nationally by Rivals and 247Sports.
Added Significance of Arkansas vs Texas
Any time Arkansas and Texas square off, whether on the gridiron, hardwood or diamond, it’s a big deal. The former Southwest Conference foes will renew their basketball rivalry Saturday afternoon with a charity exhibition game in Austin.
Even though it won’t actually count for anything, it’s a top-15 showdown and an early test for the Razorbacks’ most hyped team since they were on top of the college basketball world in the mid-1990s.
The impact of the game could potentially extend beyond the court, as five-star recruit Ron Holland is expected to be in attendance. One of the top remaining uncommitted players in the 2023 class, he released his top four schools earlier this month, with Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky and UCLA making the cut.
However, it’s widely believed to be a two-team race between the Razorbacks and Longhorns, with the Bruins looming as a dark horse. Holland was in Fayetteville for the Red-White Game earlier this month, just a few days removed from unofficial visits to UCLA and Texas.
It was apparently a successful trip for Holland, who took an official visit to Arkansas over the summer. He told WholeHogSports that the Razorbacks “impressed me even more than they did the first time,” and HawgBeat’s Jackson Collier actually put in a FutureCast for them to land him.
While no commitment date has been set in stone, Holland has discussed the end of October as when he’ll likely make up his mind, so Saturday could be the last chance to Arkansas and Texas to make an impression on the top-10 prospect.
The Razorbacks are likely hoping for a similar result as what unfolded with Anthony Black back in the spring. The five-star point guard — who happened to be a high school teammate of Holland at Duncanville, Texas — was down to Arkansas and Gonzaga, then picked the Razorbacks a few days after they beat the Bulldogs in the Sweet 16.
Other Arkansas Recruiting Nuggets
- Offensive lineman Fletcher Westphal, a top-250 recruit in the Class of 2024, will narrow down his 30-plus offers to a list of his top schools on Nov. 30, he announced Thursday morning. The Virginia native has been to Fayetteville twice for unofficial visits, including for the South Carolina game earlier this season.
- He’s committed to the Razorbacks as a cornerback, but Jaylon Braxton also plays wide receiver for Frisco Lone Star and took a screen 56 yards to the house in last Friday’s 48-7 win over Sherman. According to Recruiting Analytics, he reached a max speed of 21.3 mph on the play. Braxton also came down with a pair of interceptions in the first half of the game.
- Led by Arkansas commits Luke and Dylan Hasz, who are also twin brothers, Bixby, Okla., has won a nation-leading 57 games in a row. The latest victim was Westmoore, which the Spartans crushed 73-6 last Thursday. It was their fourth straight game scoring 70-plus and their sixth straight scoring 60-plus. They’ve outscored opponents by a combined 545-61 — an average margin of 60.5 points.
- The Arkansas baseball program landed commitments in their next three recruiting classes over the past week. Jackson Farrell, a left-handed pitcher from Owasso, Okla., and Luke Cornelison, an in-state infielder from Springdale Har-Ber, joined their 2024 and 2025 classes, respectively, on Monday. Those announcements came a couple days after Johnny Carver, a left-handed pitcher out of Raymore-Peculiar High in Missouri, committed as a 2026 prospect.
- The Razorbacks also added a gymnastics commitment on Tuesday, as Joscelyn Roberson picked Arkansas over Oklahoma and Michigan. The Texarkana, Texas, native is a former U.S. junior national team member and rated a four-star prospect in the 2024 class by College Gym News. She is Arkansas’ second four-star commit in the class, joining Grace Drexler from Wisconsin.
More about Michael Dyer’s Little Rock youth here:
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