RazorbacksSports

Razorbacks Host Signing Day

FAYETTEVILLE –  During his 2013-2015 Arkansas Razorbacks years as Bret Bielema’s offensive line coach and his since December, 2019 stir as the Razorbacks head coach, Sam Pittman said he’s never seen more potential Arkansas born Razorbacks than out of this 2022 freshman class.

Pittman’s potential perception pronounced with 10 Arkansans among the 22 athletes signed during Wednesday’s start to the December early signing period.

“We have signed 10 from the state of Arkansas,” Pittman said at his   Wednesday signees press conference. “And that was as good as when I was here before for three years of the recruiting cycle here. I thought it was the best class of athletes of the state of Arkansas. We went up to Tennessee for a few, Texas for a couple. Georgia has been a strong ground for us, signing four out of the state of Georgia. We pieced together a few from Australia, South Carolina and Wisconsin.”

The total class consists of 19 graduating high school seniors, two transfers through the transfer portal, and one, Australian punter Max Fletcher of Melbourne,  through Australian Pro Kick.

Jadon Haselwood, 6-3, 200,  transfers from the University Oklahoma as  a senior 3-year letterman receiver who caught 39 passes for 399 yards for the Sooners this season. He was a 5-star prospect out of Ellenwood, Ga. when signed for 2019 by now former OU Coach Lincoln Riley’s staff.

Defensive end Landon Jackson, 6-7, 273 transfers as a sophomore defensive lineman from LSU who played five games as a reserve in 2021. Like Haselwood from OU, Jackson transfers following a head coaching change.

“I am excited about transfer signees we had today in Haselwood and certainly Landon Jackson,” Pittman said.

With first-team All-SEC receiver Treylon Burks already declared for the 2022 draft and not playing in Arkansas’ Jan. 1 Outback Bowl game with Penn State in Tampa, Fla., and bonus senior  receivers Tyson Morris and De’Vion Warren completing their eligibility at the bowl game, receivers became an Arkansas recruiting premium.

The Hogs signed four receivers, three freshmen and old hand Haselwood.  Pittman always searches for hefty offensive and defensive linemen. 

“Haselwood has played a whole lot of ball,” Pittman said. “Landon has played some ball until he got hurt. We need help at both those positions in my opinion.  I think those two guys at their position are probably about as good as there is in the country in the portal at defensive end and at wide receiver. I’m very excited to get both of them because we’re expecting them to help us immediately.”

Receivers signed include two of Arkansas’ home grown 10, highly sought pass-catching, track sprinting Isaiah Sategna, 5-11, 175, once committed to Oregon, and Quincey McAdoo, 6-2, 175 of Clarendon and formerly committed to Florida State plus from Kennesaw, Ga. Sam Mbake, 6-2, 205, who who considered numerous offers before signing Wednesday with Arkansas.

Haselwood, McAdoo, and Mbake all possess the size that Pittman and receivers coach Kenny Guiton crave.  Though only 5-11, Sategna is just too fast and too strong to let get away.

“We wanted to stay as big as we possibly could in length so we could win one-on-one contested balls,” Pittman said.  “But Sategna was just so fast and, to be honest with you, very physical for his size and can win a one-on-one battle. In high school, he was winning them all the time.”

For the offensive line, Pittman and line coach Cody Kennedy added 

Arkansans Andrew Chamblee, 6-6, 285 of Maumelle; E’Marion Harris, 6-7, 370 of Little Rock Joe T. Robinson; Eli Henderson, 6-4, 290 of Duncan, S.C; and Patrick Kutas, 6-5, 284 of Memphis Christian Brothers.

Pittman said those are four he would have offered scholarships to when he was coaching the Georgia offensive line that helped the Bulldogs win a SEC championship and that he did offer to Henderson while still Georgia.

Chamblee’ potential drew additional mention.

“Chamblee, whom I think has potential to be a great player,Pittman said.  “He has everything. Size, feet, all those things.”

Pittman said this class fills needs Arkansas has towards 2022 at receiver, offensive line and linebacker.

Bonus senior linebacker mainstays Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry finally must depart Razorback football after the bowl game.

Pittman is trying to persuade leading tackler linebacker Bumper Pool, a 2021 senior but with the because of the covid disrupted 2020 season restoring that season’s eligibility, having the option to be a 2022 bonus senior.

The Razorbacks and linebackers coach Michael Scherer signed incoming freshman linebackers Mani Powell, 6-3, 225 of Fayetteville;  Kaden Henley, 6-2, 225 of Springdale and Shiloh Christian, and Jordan Crook, 6-0, 225, Duncanville, Texas.

They’ll add to redshirt freshman linebacker Chris “Pooh” Paul and veteran reserve Andrew Parker and maybe Pool.

“”I like Pooh Paul,” Pittman said. “I like Parker and it’s no secret I’m trying like crazy to keep Pool. I love this young three linebackers that we signed. We’ll see if we need to go into the portal for another guy.”

The portal numbers game continues swinging both ways.

Linebacker J.T. Towers, defensive back Jermaine Hamilton-Jordan and defensive tackle Andy Boykin, all 2021 Razorbacks freshman redshirt freshmen, entered the transfer portal Wednesday joining regular kickoff man Vito Calvaruso.

With nearly flawless deep snapper Jordan Silver invited to to the Senior Bowl after the Outback Bowl, special teams coordinator Scott Fountain signed heralded snapper Eli Stein from Cambridge, Wisc. and Fletcher to punt, certainly post 2022 with Reid Bauer reporting as a 2022 senior off a fine 2021 Razorbacks campaign punting and holding for Cam Little’s place-kicks.

With bonus senior Blake Kern moving on, Pittman and tight ends coach Dowell Loggains signed tight ends Dax Courtney, 6-6, 210, from Clarendon and  Tyrus Washington, 6-4, 230 from Leesburg, Ga. 

To a strong running back stable, Pittman and running backs coach Jimmy Smith added James Jointer of Little Rock Parkview,  and Rashod Dubinion, 5-10, 185, Ellenwood, Ga.

Defensive line additions besides LSU transfer Jackson include Arkansans  Nico Davillier, 6-4, 275 of Maumelle and  JJ Hollingsworth, 6-4, 250 of Greenland.

In the secondary defensive coordinator Barry Odom and cornerbacks coach Sam Carter added from Tennessee Anthony Brown, 6-0, 185 of Milan; and Jaylen Lewis, 6-0, 175 of Brownsville.

Pittman said that while defensive backs, both have the speed and hands to be receivers.

The most primary secondary recruit seems third-year sophomore safety Jalen Catalon, a Football Writers Association 2020 Freshman All-American, announcing Tuesday his 2022 return to the Razorbacks.  Draft eligible as a third-year player, Catalon contemplated turning pro after his outstanding 2021 season was cut to six games by a season-ending shoulder injury requiring surgery.

“Well, I think he made a great decision” Pittman said of Catalon returning for the Razorbacks.  “For  him personally, I think it was a good decision, as well. Certainly coming off the shoulder that he had last year, he wasn’t able to complete what was a fine season that started out. With him coming back, it’s a big, big thing for us. I think it will certainly help him and Ricky  (Stromberg, the junior center who said he is returning ) the same way.”

With 2021 star quarterback KJ Jefferson to return as a junior and reserves Malik Hornsby, Lucas Coley and walk-on via Ole Miss transfer Kade Renfro returning, the Razorbacks did not sign a quarterback.

“We made a decision not to sign a quarterback this year simply because we felt like we were on some really good ones in the 2023 class and we felt like it would help us get them,” Pittman said. 

Nationally, the Razorbacks recruiting class was rated 12th by Rivals and 17th by 247sports.

“ I feel like each year we’re getting a little bit better in our classes,” Pittman said. “We certainly aren’t happy with where we are, but we’re getting a little bit better.  I think we’ll continue to move up in those things.”

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