Over the past decade, the Arkansas football team has struggled to contend in the SEC. Few fans need a reminder that Arkansas has won only seven games in the last three seasons.
The first step to addressing that is securing better talent, which starts with getting commitments in the state of Arkansas. Continuing to build depth on both sides of the ball with elite home-grown talent is a must for Sam Pittman and his Arkansas football coaches.
To that end, they have wasted little time in securing the verbal commitments of several key players throughout the state of Arkansas.
The Razorbacks have gotten commitments from four star recruits in offensive tackle E’Marion Harris (Joe T. Robinson), wide receiver Quincey McAdoo (Clarendon) and offensive tackle Andrew Chamblee (Maumelle).
The three-star native sons are defensive end JJ Hollingsworth (Greenland), running back James Jointer (Parkview), tight end Dax Courtney (Dewitt) and linebacker Kaden Henley (Shiloh Christian).
The Arkansas football recruiting class for 2022 — with Myles Rowser as the crown jewel so far — comes in at No. 19 in the nation so far according to 247Sports.
But Pittman isn’t resting in the least.
The next step for his coaching staff is to lock in a valuable piece on the defensive side of the ball in the form of Maumelle’s four-star defensive lineman Nico Davillier.
Nico Davillier: Maumelle Hornets Star
For many Arkansas football fans, the focus on recruiting has now shifted to Maumelle defensive lineman Nico Davillier and the date of June 27th. That’s when Davillier had said he will announce which school he will attend, although Nebraska’s Rivals site has reported a source says he will push that back.
The 6’5, 275-pound rising senior has amassed at 14 scholarship offers in the last year or so.
They include Georgia, which was the second school to offer him, Tennessee (the third to offer) and Arkansas (the fourth).
Nico Davillier is an intense defensive player that can mix both power and speed well. His versatility along the defensive line makes him an intriguing prospect and one that the Arkansas football program should sign to take another step toward respectability.
As you can see in the video below, Davillier (No. 60) has the talent and skill to play the edge rusher, or he can move to the defensive tackle slot and use his quickness to terrorize the guards and center.
Pittman has some stiff competition for Nico Davillier, who paid an unofficial visit to Arkansas a couple weeks ago. In the coming days he is making an official visit to the Hogs.
Last weekend, Davillier made an official visit to Oklahoma, a program that also needs depth at defensive line. Oklahoma and Arkansas both want a quick defensive lineman that has the mix of power and speed to disrupt the opposing offensive backfield.
Oklahoma will be losing some key players along the defensive line this season and Davillier would provide the Sooners with depth as well as a possible starter.
Then there’s Colorado, where head coach Karl Dorrell has made putting together a strong defense to contend with the high-flying offenses of the Pac-12 a priority.
The Colorado coaching staff has done an impressive job of recruiting the state of Arkansas, recently snagging defensive tackle Tyas Martin of Jacksonville.
Arkansas Football’s Top Competitors for Nico Davillier
One team that could possibly need a lineman of Davillier’s caliber worse than the Arkansas Razorbacks is Nebraska, where Davillier recently visited.
“I am looking for a great education,” he told Rivals on that trip.
“I also want a place that feels like home, and if I can see myself developing as a man and as a player. I am also looking for a great environment.”
The famed Black Shirt defense is not what it was when Nebraska was dominating college football in the 1990’s. Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost is not on the hot seat, but the pressure to develop a quality defense and a complete team is starting to build on a team that is hungry to win and win big.
Penn State is another school that is famous for putting together powerhouse defenses and sending numerous players to the NFL. The Nittany Lions are a young team on the two deep defensive line roster this season. Expect Penn State to make a strong push for Davillier, especially when folks consider the Nittany Lions landed in his top eight.
The Georgia Bulldogs always seem to be in the mix for dynamic athletes like Davillier, who had 39 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble as a junior.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart made his name as one of the top defensive coordinators in the country before taking over the Bulldogs head coaching position and he is a formidable foe on the recruiting trail for his former offensive line coach, Sam Pittman.
If the Bulldogs landed Davillier, ranked by Rivals as the nation’s No. 24 strong side defensive end, it would be a blow to what the Arkansas football program is trying to accomplish in the Natural State.
The Tennessee Volunteers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs have also offered Davillier. Both schools need playmakers on the defensive side of the ball and Davillier fits that description to a tee.
Razorback Football Pluses in Push for Nico Davillier
The Arkansas Razorbacks have several advantages in the recruitment of Davillier.
For many prospects from the state of Arkansas the chance to rebuild the Razorbacks means the world to them. Putting the Razorback helmet on has been what many in-state prospects shoot for and attempt to achieve. Tradition and history can mean more than people think.
Davillier, who moved to Arkansas at the age of 2 from New Orleans, has already said that Hogs’ offer last summer meant a lot to him, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Current Arkansas football commits have started recruiting Davillier to come and play for the Razorbacks.
Don’t underestimate the sway such peer pressure can have.
Let’s start with his Maumelle teammate, Andrew Chamblee.
“I just tell him it’s home and the crew gonna make the program better,” Chamblee told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Richard Davenport.
JJ Hollingsworth, meanwhile, appears to be predicting that Davillier will commit to Arkansas here:
Hollingsworth, who often talks to Davillier, told Davenport:
“I think him seeing all of the in-state guys staying home is helping his decision a lot.”
“He’s been telling me about all the fan love he’s been getting from Arkansas and that plays a huge factor in someone’s decision.”
“All of the in-state guys stay in his ear though, so we are all pretty confident in his decision, but at the end of the day we are all going to stay really close even if he doesn’t stay home.”
Eli Henderson is another Arkansas football commit who is working on Davillier from South Carolina:
“I think Nico knows what we got here and what’s happening,” Henderson told Davenport.
“I would respect his decision no matter what, but I would hope he can see how special this group is and how he can be a part of something bigger than him and bigger than football.”
“This could be legendary times in the making, and we want as many people to be a part of that as possible, especially a homegrown guy like himself.”
“He and us all can be remembered long after we’re gone from the Hill.”
Nico Davillier, naturally, must do what he thinks is best for him and his family. He’s an intelligent young man and has his priorities in order.
It makes sense that he wants to take his time to decide which school best fits him.
“Davillier remains torn on his top options, which include Oklahoma and Arkansas,” Rivals recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman wrote on June 24.
“He will delay his June 27 commitment date in order to give further thought to his possible landing spots and possibly take a few more visits, including some for games in the fall.”
Still, given all the factors at play, it would be surprising to many experts, including myself, if Davillier did not eventually commit to the Arkansas football program.
The 2022 football recruiting class is a talented one in the state of Arkansas and being able to keep key recruits at home should always be the goal of the Arkansas football program.
Arkansas is more than competitive in parents’ living rooms again, but only time will tell if Pittman can ink enough talented linemen like Davillier to push the Hogs back into legit SEC title contention.
So far, so good.
Hear the latest about Davillier and Arkansas football here: