Just a couple months into their first off season in Fayetteville, Sam Pittman’s staff is already showing a quiet confidence that is a welcome change from the darting-eyed, Red Bull fueled frenetic behavior of the last staff.
This was clear in an interview a few days ago with offensive line coach Brad Davis. Davis, who recently coached at Florida and Missouri, said that he had observed a lack of confidence in Razorback players from opposing sidelines .
“When you walk around and look at a place like this, the facilities, the support, you wonder how it could have slipped into the way that it has. Having coached against Arkansas the last couple of years, it wasn’t a talent issue or a talent deficit.”
“What I observed as an opposing coach, was a group of guys that, for whatever reason, they weren’t fighting they should have… They weren’t maximizing their potential. Quite frankly, that’s the only way you give yourself a chance.”-Hogs assistant coach Brad Davis
Davis then went on to explain that while this tenure has gotten off to a great start — Arkansas signed a No. 29 ranked class that went far beyond the expectations of most — he knows his ultimate job is to produce results.
“I understand if we don’t play well, we are going to hear about it,” Davis told a group of reporters. “I fully anticipate it but I also came here to kick ass, so I’m not afraid to run from anybody.”
These are strong words, and likely many college football fans outside of Arkansas roll their eyes at such a statement given the Hogs have won a total of four games in the last two seasons. There’s a tinge of former Hog coach Bret Bielema in such a statement.
However, Davis is no joker. Whereas Bielema often used bravado and trolling as a marketing tool, Davis and the rest of the Razorback coaches appear to be as straight shooting as they come.
Pittman gave his thoughts on Davis’ comment during the Arkansas Football Coaches Association conference this weekend in Hot Springs. “Well, we didn’t come here to lose,” he told the Buzz 103.7 FM’s Justin Acri. “We believe that we’re at the best university in the country. I mean that. And we believe that finishing 29th or 30th in the country in recruiting is unacceptable, because we’re at Arkansas, and we believe we’re going to win.”
Again, strong words, but ones many Hog fans appreciate. During the SEC era, Arkansas hasn’t yet been able to land a class that nationally ranks better than in the lower 20s. Coincidentally, it’s also never won an SEC title. When Arkansas played in the SWC, and consistently landed what would have been Top 20 recruiting classes, it also won SWC titles and competed for national championships.
It’s obvious that the program will need to return to the same kind of recruiting success it had in the SWC to finally win an SEC title. Nearly 30 years of SEC play has proven that.
Pittman on his assistants already getting lured away
Many analysts consider Pittman’s staff, on paper, to be the best on the Hill since the 1970s. Certainly, the OC/DC combination of Kendal Briles and Barry Odom is the most impressive the program has had in decades. Experienced assistants like Brad Davis and Derrick LeBlanc (defensive line coach) add cachet at most positions, too.
Already, other programs are coming from these guys.
“I think I hired good people. Most of them I knew for a long time. We’ve had four of our coaches that’s already been offered other jobs to other universities, and none of them’s left,” Pittman said. “And I think that’s something to be said for the University of Arkansas, and the people of Arkansas.”
Pittman on Razorback recruiting needs
Sam Pittman also chimed in on the two quarterbacks the Hogs have signed in last month. He praised graduate transfer Feleipe Franks’ winning track record in the SEC and then brought up class of 2020 dual-threat dynamo Malik Hornsby: “He’s probably ideal for what Kendal Briles wants to do offensively. And I think that was key for us. It was a need there.”
He added the team addressed its lack of depth on defense. “We were under numbers there on the defensive side of the ball, and we signed 15, and we needed them. And some of them we signed for immediate help, obviously, with [Julius] Coates and Jerry [Jacobs]. So, we’ll see what happens.
“I think we handled most of our needs. If I could say something about ‘Man, I wish we would’ve got another tight end,’ because that had been under-recruited in the past as far as numbers go. Certainly not talent, but as far as numbers” there’s a need.
Listen to the whole interview here:
Arkansas’ highest ranking recruit this off-season is actually a graduate transfer. Former Sooner Levi Draper was a four-star player ranked No. 2 in Oklahoma his senior year. Here’s some deep insight into his projected impact in Fayetteville by long-time Sooner analyst RJ Young: