Arkansas’ Recruiting Troubles
By Matthew Osborne
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Arkansas has never been an elite recruiting program, but the Razorbacks have also never been quite this bad.
It has been a rough past 12 months for fans of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
From former head coach Bobby Petrino’s “inappropriate relationship” with a university staff member and his subsequent cover up, to the team’s extreme struggles in 2012 under the direction of John L. Smith, it has not been fun to be a Razorback fan over the past year.
The struggles on the gridiron have left a bitter taste in the mouths of those close to the program, but now it appears that the negative attention surrounding the program is starting to interfere in Arkansas’ recruiting efforts.
Glancing back at the recruiting rankings in the SEC over the past half-decade, it is obvious that Arkansas has never been a dominant recruiting power, despite the tremendous success for the program between 2009 and 2011. According to Scout.com, the Razorbacks have not finished in the upper half of the conference in recruiting since the 2008 recruiting class.
Though Arkansas has never been one of the elite recruiting teams in the SEC, the Razorbacks were also never the worst recruiting team in the conference, which is the current position in which the Razorbacks find themselves.
With a mere 12 verbal commitments for the current class, Arkansas has the fewest current commits of any SEC school (Auburn has the next fewest with 15).
While the lack of numbers certainly partially explains Arkansas’ poor recruiting ranking, it does not tell the entire story.
The average star rating of Arkansas’ 12 commits is 2.92, making the Razorbacks just one of three SEC schools with a current average star rating under 3.0.
In addition, two of Arkansas’ three highest-ranked commits – tight end Hunter Henry and safety Khari Harding – are currently listed as “soft verbals”, meaning that they are continuing to pursue other options on the recruiting front.
Again, Arkansas has never been an elite recruiting program, but the Razorbacks have also never been quite this bad.
New head coach Bret Bielema undoubtedly has his work cut out for him in order to turn things around in Fayetteville and get the Razorbacks heading back in the right direction.
With a negative national perception of the program due to issues away from the gridiron, Bielema and his staff must make Arkansas a coveted destination once again by shedding a positive light on the university.
If he fails do so, Bielema will be doomed to fail in the nation’s toughest conference.