Sam Pittman and the Razorbacks didn’t even have to wait until sunset to get some fireworks this Fourth of July, as they landed a pair of four-star recruits Monday evening.
Four-star offensive lineman Paris Patterson, from East St. Louis, Ill., was the first to announce his commitment to Arkansas football and four-star athlete Micah Tease from Tulsa followed suit just a couple hours later.
There are now 20 players in the Razorbacks’ 2023 class, which — albeit still too early to mean too much — is ranked firmly in the top 10 nationally. Half of those commitments have burst onto the scene in less than a month’s span.
It’s actually Arkansas’ third twofer in nine days, as it landed pledges from safety TJ Metcalf and athlete Dylan Hasz on Friday after landing defensive tackle Stephen Johnson and linebacker Alex Sanford the previous Sunday.
What makes Monday particularly special is how heralded both recruits are. Tease is a consensus four-star and ranked as high as No. 126 overall by On3, while Patterson is a four-star prospect and top-250 recruit by Rivals.
More than two years has passed since Pittman last pulled off such a feat. The last time it happened was Feb. 5, 2020, when the Razorbacks closed out the 2020 class — Pittman’s first as head coach — with a trio of four-stars on National Signing Day: quarterback Malik Hornsby and offensive linemen Jalen St. John and Marcus Henderson.
You have to go back even further to find the last time it happened prior to signing day: four-star athlete T.J. Hammonds and four-star defensive tackle Briston Guidry joined the 2016 class together on April 12, 2015.
Patterson’s Decision to Join Arkansas Football
He tried throwing fans off the scent with a cryptic tweet that included hashtags for Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, LSU and Jackson State a day earlier, but things had been trending positively for Arkansas and Paris Patterson for a couple of weeks.
Even though he’s ranked as the No. 235 overall player in the Class of 2023 by Rivals, Patterson’s recruitment didn’t really pick up steam until this summer. The 6-foot-6, 345-pound lineman was named runner up for the offensive line MVP award at a Rivals camp in April.
“Paris Patterson is a huge offensive lineman who moves incredibly well at his size, and basically became a road block for any pass rusher that tried to challenge him,” Rivals’ Clint Cosgrove wrote about his performance.
Patterson later picked up an LSU offer after a solid camp showing in Baton Rouge and was in Fayetteville a couple weeks later for another camp. He impressed the Razorbacks’ coaches enough to earn an offer. That was on June 22. A day later, he announced he’d return to Arkansas for an official visit that weekend. A week after that, he committed.
The Razorbacks are getting a talented lineman who started as a freshman on East St. Louis’ Class 6A state championship team in 2019 and also helped the Flyers finish runner-up as a junior in 2021.
Although Rivals is the only outlet that gave him a fourth star, Patterson is just outside of the four-star range on ESPN and 247Sports. Those services have him as the No. 21 and No. 27 interior lineman in the country, respectively.
No Tulsa ‘Tease’ This Year
One of Arkansas’ top targets in the last recruiting cycle was Gentry Williams, another heralded four-star athlete out of Booker T. Washington High in Tulsa. He visited Fayetteville multiple times before ultimately picking Oklahoma, though.
For a while, it seemed like history might repeat itself with Tease. The Sooners were the early favorites in his recruitment, but Lincoln Riley’s departure opened things up. He took official visits to Notre Dame and USC last month before a “last-minute decision” to officially visit Arkansas the final weekend of June.
It was the latest of many trips to Fayetteville for Tease, who must have been sold on the Razorbacks because he announced his commitment about a week later. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete was also in town for the football team’s win over Texas last September and the basketball team’s overtime win over Texas A&M in January.
In addition to the Fighting Irish, Trojans and Sooners, he turned down offers from Florida, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Texas A&M and several others.
Listed as an “athlete” by a couple of recruiting services, Tease could play either wide receiver or cornerback in college. However, he’d like to play on offense and that’s where Arkansas has targeted him, as wide receiver Kenny Guiton prepared a slide show for how he’d fit into Arkansas’ system at the position during last weekend’s visit.
As a junior, Tease led the Hornets in all three receiving categories, catching 31 passes for 618 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games. That built on freshman and sophomore seasons in which he made 31 receptions for 543 yards and five touchdowns in 12 combined games. Defensively, he had 25 tackles, three interceptions, four pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble this past season.
Tease is a consensus four-star recruit who’s ranked anywhere between No. 126 and No. 258. On3 has him the highest at No. 126 overall with a 93 grade and classifies him as a cornerback, where he’s ranked 15th nationally. ESPN has him the lowest at No. 258 overall with an 81 grade and classifies him as a wide receiver, where he’s ranked 36th nationally.
The two other services, Rivals and 247Sports, consider him an “athlete” and have him at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively, at the position. Overall, 247Sports has him at No. 133 with a 92 grade, while Rivals has him at No. 203 with a 5.8 rating.
Pittman Continues to Build Arkansas’ Offensive Line
Almost as soon as Sam Pittman left for Georgia following the 2015 season, Arkansas’ recruiting efforts along the offensive line fell off dramatically.
While he was an assistant coach under Bret Bielema, Pittman signed or landed commitments from 11 offensive lineman. Using Rivals’ rating system, all but one – JUCO transfer Sebastian Tretola, who became an All-American – was a 5.7 three-star or better. That includes a quartet of four-stars.
Under previous offensive line coaches Kurt Anderson and Dustin Fry, none of the Razorbacks’ 15 high school offensive line signees were even high three-star recruits (5.7 rating).
It has taken longer than some may have expected, but Pittman is slowly getting Arkansas back to where it was during his first stint in Fayetteville. Patterson is the 13th offensive lineman he’s nabbed as head coach and the ninth to be a 5.7 three-star or better. He is also the fourth four-star.
As things stand right now, the 2023 class is Pittman’s first as head coach in which each of the offensive linemen he’s landed fall into that category. Patterson and Luke Brown – a pledge out of Henry County High in Paris, Tenn. – are each 5.8 four-star prospects, while Bentonville’s Joey Su’a is a 5.7 three-star.
Sooner State Invasion
Heralded tight end Luke Hasz made history when he committed to Arkansas in January. The former Oklahoma pledge became the first No. 1 player from the Sooner State in the 247Sports Composite to commit to the Razorbacks.
He has since moved down to No. 2 on 247Sports, but Rivals still has him as the top prospect in Oklahoma for the 2023 class. Tease is only a few spots behind him as the No. 4 player from the state, according to Rivals.
The Razorbacks are now the first team not named Oklahoma or Oklahoma State to land a pair of the Sooner State’s top-five prospects in a single year since 2005. That year, Nebraska signed No. 3 Phillip Dillard and No. 5 Craig Roark – who, interestingly, were sandwiched around No. 4 Felix Jones.
What makes Arkansas landing Hasz and Tease even more unique, though, is that they are both four-star recruits. Nebraska’s 2005 haul included one four-star (Dillard) and one three-star (Roark).
It didn’t come out of nowhere, though. Pittman – who was born in El Reno, Okla., before moving to Grove, Okla. – has made an emphasis of recruiting the state.
Including Tease and the Hasz twins (Luke’s brother, Dylan, committed last week), the Razorbacks have signed or gained commitments of 10 players from Oklahoma since 2020, when Pittman was hired. That four-year total is nearly equal to the previous eight classes combined (11).
Arkansas isn’t just getting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State’s leftovers, either. It is up to four top-five players from the Sooner State in the last four cycles, as it also landed Myles Slusher (No. 3) in 2020 and Keuan Parker (No. 5) in 2021. With a couple of uncommitted players remaining in the 2023 class, that’s tied with Oklahoma – and one ahead of Oklahoma State – for the most over that span.
Before Pittman’s arrival, the Razorbacks hadn’t signed a top-five player from Oklahoma since Keon Hatcher in 2012.
More Fireworks Coming for Arkansas Football?
The Razorbacks have landed 10 commitments in the past month, but might not be done just yet.
Later this week, four-star safety Jaylon Braxton from Frisco, Texas, will also announce his college decision. Although he was committed to Michigan State when he officially visited Arkansas last month, the Lone Star High prospect has since backed off that pledge and will now choose between the Razorbacks, Miami (Fla.) and others on July 9.
Arkansas Recruiting Class of 2023
- TE Shamar Easter — Ashdown (Ark.)
- TE Jaden Hamm — Eudora (Kan.)
- OL Joey Su’a — Bentonville (Ark.)
- CB Dallas Young — Gardendale (Ala.)
- DE Kaleb James — Mansfield (Texas)
- TE Luke Hasz — Bixby (Okla.)
- DE Quincy Rhodes — North Little Rock (Ark.)
- LB Carson Dean — Carrollton (Texas) Hebron
- OL Luke Brown — Paris (Tenn.) Henry County
- QB Malachi Singleton — Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb
- RB Isaiah Augustave — Naples (Fla.)
- S Christian Ford — McKinney (Texas)
- DT Ian Geffrard — Mableton (Ga.) Whitefield Academy
- CB RJ Johnson — McDonough (Ga.) Eagle’s Landing Christian
- LB Alex Sanford — Oxford (Miss.)
- DT Stephen Johnson — Fayetteville (Ga.) Whitewater
- S TJ Metcalf — Pinson (Ala.) Valley
- ATH Dylan Hasz — Bixby (Okla.)
- OL Paris Patterson — East St. Louis (Ill.)
- ATH Micah Tease — Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington
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