After landing six commitments last month, Arkansas recruiting has stayed hot as the calendar flips to July with the commitment of TJ Metcalf.
A high three-star safety out of Alabama, Metcalf announced his pledge to the Razorbacks on Friday, picking them from a final four that included Penn State, Jackson State and Ole Miss, with which he had some familial ties. He is the 17th public member of Arkansas’ 2023 recruiting class.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Metcalf also officially visited Michigan State, plus had offers from Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Tennessee and others.
Metcalf is coming off a junior season in which he racked up 115 tackles, eight pass breakups, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries at Pinson Valley High, which competes in Alabama’s second-largest classification.
The decision to commit to the Razorbacks comes less than five months after Metcalf was re-offered by new defensive backs coach Dominique Bowman. Over that span, the two developed a close relationship that will now continue into Metcalf’s college career.
It’s also worth noting that one of his other finalists, Ole Miss, is where former Arkansas defensive backs coach Sam Carter – who originally offered him while still with the Razorbacks – landed, so Bowman made up a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
He first visited Fayetteville for a Junior Day on March 12 and then returned to campus for an official visit the weekend of June 10-12.
Although he is a three-star on each of the major recruiting services, Metcalf isn’t too far away from being a four-star recruit. 247Sports and On3 give him an 88 rating and ESPN gives him a 78 rating, both two points away from four-star status, and Rivals tabbed him a 5.7, which is just shy of the 5.8 four-star status.
TJ Metcalf spurns Ole Miss for Razorbacks
If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because his cousin is DK Metcalf — the former Ole Miss standout who went on to become a second-round pick and Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.
The older cousin is no stranger to the Razorbacks.
Metcalf torched Arkansas for 107 yards on four receptions back in 2017, but Ole Miss blew a 24-point lead in what was the largest comeback in UA history. The next year, he hauled in a 49-yard reception before suffering a season-ending injury at War Memorial Stadium in a game the Rebels rallied to win.
Even though he included Ole Miss among his final three options, TJ Metcalf has made it no secret that he wants to make a name for himself and not just ride the coattails of his cousin.
“I’ve known since I started playing the sport I was going to have to make a name for myself in order to be good and not just be DK’s little cousin,” Metcalf told The Tuscaloosa News in May. “I feel like I’ve grown past just the little cousin part. A year ago, two years ago it would’ve been all cool and stuff, but now it’s business.
“I like the way (DK) does things. He’s just really done a great job. … I’m blessed for him to be my cousin. I’m making a name for myself, and I feel like people should start recognizing me for that and not just the little cousin part.”
Not only did DK star at Ole Miss, but so did his father — and TJ’s uncle — Terrence Metcalf, before spending seven years in the NFL. On top of that, both of TJ Metcalf’s parents graduated from Ole Miss.
If the Razorbacks have anything to say about it, TJ won’t be the last Metcalf to spurn the Rebels and Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin in favor of their SEC West rival.
Arkansas is one of a handful of schools to already offer TJ Metcalf’s younger brother, Tevis, who is an unrated 2024 athlete. His only other offers are from HBCUs at the FCS level — Alabama A&M and Jackson State — but several other schools are interested.
Arkansas football lands another defensive back
The Razorbacks now have four defensive backs committed in the 2023 class, with Metcalf joining Dallas Young, Christian Ford and RJ Johnson. All four of them are widely considered high three-star prospects.
Young and Ford are considered cornerbacks, while Johnson and Metcalf are safeties. That said, Arkansas’ coaches like to cross-train defensive backs at multiple positions once they get on campus.
Interestingly, Metcalf and Young both compete in the same conference, Alabama’s Class 6A Region 6, so they are already familiar with each other. Young plays at Gardendale High.
Assuming both players ultimately sign with the Razorbacks, they’ll be Arkansas’ first signees from Alabama since running back A’Montae Spivey in 2019.
Upcoming decisions for Arkansas football
Metcalf’s announcement could mark the start of a recruiting hot streak for Arkansas, as a couple of other high-profile targets are also set to make their decisions soon.
Next up on that list is offensive lineman Paris Patterson, a four-star recruit and the No. 235 overall prospect in the 2023 class, according to Rivals. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound lineman picked up an offer from Arkansas after a solid camp performance on June 22, returned a few days later for an official visit and is now set to announce his commitment on July 4, with LSU, Nebraska and Tennessee among his other offers.
Later that week, four-star safety Jaylon Braxton from Frisco, Texas, will also make his 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
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