Poaching this Star from LSU Would Have Upgraded Hogs’ Recruiting Class from Very Good to Historically Great

Laterrence Welch

The drum beat of “must recruit better” has been beaten so hard, for so long, that it’s now a part of every Razorback football fan’s psyche. The last couple decades of recruiting rankings, with their intricate star systems and metrics, have made it clear that when the overall talent that Arkansas brings into its program is consistently in 40th percentile when compared to the rest of the SEC.

Since the modern recruiting era began in 2002, Arkansas has finished with an average conference ranking finish of 9.3 when it comes to its annual recruiting classes, HawgSport’s Danny West reports. As you can see below, Arkansas has never finished higher than No. 5 in the SEC and No. 18 nationally. In fact, it’s only cracked the Top 20 nationally twice:

How Arkansas Recruiting Classes Have Rated

2002259Marcus Whitmore
20034210Chris Baker
2004185Marcus Monk
2005268Darren McFadden
2006227Mitch Mustain
20073610DJ Williams
2008256De’Anthony Curtis
2009209Darius Winston
20104110Cam Feldt
2011219Brey Cook
20122710Jonathan Williams
2013239Alex Collins
20142911Bijhon Jackson
20152211Hjalte Froholdt
2016239McTelvin Agim
20172710Chevin Calloway
20184514Bumper Pool
20192310Treylon Burks
20203011Myles Slusher
2021248Ketron Jackson

This year, Arkansas should return to the top 20 when it comes to 247Sports composite rankings, which take into account multiple outlets’ rankings.

On Thursday morning, Arkansas got Samuel Mbake, a 247Sports ranked 4-star wide receiver out of Georgia. That gave the Razorbacks 21 commitments and a team score of 217.96 – good for No. 17 in the nation.

“He’s 6’3, 6’4,” Arkansas recruiting reporter Otis Kirk said on Pig Trail Nation. “He told me he’s a 190 pounds last week when he was here. I don’t know if I believe that or not. I think the scales were [broken]. I mean, I had him at 205. I swear if he had told he was 10 pounds different than what I had him, I’d thought 215. This is a big kid. I mean, he’s a good looking kid only going to get bigger. He’s fast too.”

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Here are the others who signed on Wednesday:

Arkansas Recruiting Signees Class of 2022

Mani Powell

Position: Linebacker

School: Fayetteville (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.6 three-star, No. 7 in Arkansas

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 225

Kaden Henley

Position: Linebacker (Athlete)

School: Springdale (Ark.) Shiloh Christian

Rivals: 5.5 three-star

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 225

Patrick Kutas

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Memphis (Tenn.) Christian Brothers

Rivals: 5.7 three-star, No. 54 OT, No. 21 in Tennessee

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 268

JJ Hollingsworth

Position: Strongside Defensive End

School: Greenland (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.6 three-star, No. 44 SDE, No. 8 in Arkansas

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 250

Eli Stein

Position: Long snapper

School: Cambridge (Wisc.)

Rivals: 5.2 three-star

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215

Jordan Crook

Position: Linebacker

School: Duncanville (Texas)

Rivals: 5.7 three-star, No. 12 ILB, No. 64 in Texas

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 225

James Jointer Jr.

Position: Running back

School: Little Rock (Ark.) Parkview

Rivals: 5.6 three-star, No. 44 RB, No. 6 in Arkansas

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 205

Rashod Dubinion

Position: Running back

School: Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove

Rivals: 5.8 four-star, No. 221 overall, No. 4 APB, No. 22 in Georgia

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 173

Isaiah Sategna

Position: Wide receiver

School: Fayetteville (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.8 four-star, No. 172 overall, No. 22 WR, No. 1 in Arkansas

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 165

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Andrew Chamblee

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Maumelle (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.6 three-star, No. 65 OT, No. 10 in Arkansas

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 293

Anthony Brown

Position: Athlete (safety)

School: Milan (Tenn.)

Rivals: 5.7 three-star, No. 30 ATH, No. 18 in Tennessee

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190

Nico Davillier

Position: Strongside Defensive End

School: Maumelle (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.8 four-star, No. 22 SDE, No. 4 in Arkansas

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 265

Jaylen Lewis

Position: Safety

School: Brownsville (Tenn.) Haywood

Rivals: 5.7 three-star, No. 48 S, No. 20 in Tennessee

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175

Quincey McAdoo

Position: Wide receiver

School: Clarendon (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.8 four-star, No. 206 overall, No. 31 WR, No. 2 in Arkansas

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 173

Dax Courtney

Position: Tight end

School: Clarendon (Ark.)

Rivals: 5.5 three-star

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 210

E’Marion Harris

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Little Rock (Ark.) Joe T. Robinson

Rivals: 5.8 four-star, No. 232 overall, No. 29 OT, No. 3 in Arkansas

Height: 6-7 | Weight: 338

Tyrus Washington

Position: Tight End

School: Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County

Rivals: 5.7 three-star, No. 29 TE, No. 55 in Georgia

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 230

Eli Henderson

Position: Offensive Guard

School: Byrnes (S.C.)

Rivals: 5.7 three star, No. 19 OG, No. 7 in South Carolina

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 285

Max Fletcher

Position: Punter/Kicker

School: ProKick Academy (Australia)

Rivals: 5.3 two-star

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 190

Best-Case Scenario Arkansas Recruiting

As big as getting the likes of Mbake and Myles Rowser (blue chip DB commit who did not sign on Wednesday) are, they were not the biggest catch Arkansas could have made. That title went to blue-chip Louisiana cornerback Laterrance Welch. The 6-1, 180 pound dynamo out of Lafayette would have been the Hogs’ highest-rated signee if they could have flipped him:

If Arkansas had flipped Laterrance Welch, then the Razorbacks would have had a projected team score of 226.92. As of late Tuesday, that would have put Arkansas at No. 13, behind Oklahoma (227.11), but ahead of Stanford (226.76), Missouri (226.49) and Clemson (220.45).

A top 15 national finish would set the record for highest finish in modern Arkansas football history and add ammunition to the argument that Sam Pittman deserves to be paid $7 million, which is the reported price point of his most recent contract request.

As the numbers stacked up on Tuesday, getting Welch would have landed Arkansas at No. 5 in the SEC in this projected way:

  1. Alabama (306.89)
  2. Georgia (305.74)
  3. Texas A&M (303.33)
  4. Kentucky (228.21)
  5. Arkansas (226.92)

Ultimately, no, the Hogs didn’t get Welch, who signed with LSU late Wednesday afternoon. Still, Arkansas the Hogs finished early signing day at No. 19 nationally – only the third top 20 finish ever in 247Sports’ composite rankings history. As a sign of how crazy competitive the SEC is, that’s that’s still only good for No. 9 in the conference – just outside the top half which Arkansas needs to finish in to begin to compete for titles against Alabama, Georgia and other top programs with so much future pro talent that you might as well learn how to bet on NFL games if you want to get in on the action.

It should also be noted that the 2001 Razorback recruiting class, which featured 5-star Ahmad Carrroll and four stars like Jeb Huckeba, De’Arrius Howard and Shawn Andrews (a future two-time All-American), very well could be the standard setter had all SEC teams which ranked using the more comprehensive ranking system which would start a year later.

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While Sam Pittman and Sam Carter did not ultimately convince Welch to flip, it’s a testament to where they have helped take the Arkansas football program that a Louisiana native and diehard LSU fan seriously considered it. The coaches also achieved an even more impressive deed just convincing star safety Jalen Catalon to return for 2022 when Catalon was a projected to be one of the top safeties in the 2022 NFL Draft despite his season-ending injury:

While Catalon is the biggest get Sam Carter will get this off-season, adding Welch to the mix — to go along with up and comers like Myles Slusher and 4-star Myles Rowser — could have been the first step in turning Arkansas into a new “DBU.” Especially in light of the fact Montaric Brown just became the first first team All-SEC Razorback defensive back in more than a decade.

Even with Welch sticking at LSU, Arkansas is still making huge headway by getting into the Top 20 nationally for only the third time ever. That must become a regular occurrence for the Arkansas football program to take its next step beyond feel-good respectability into legitimate contention.

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