The Arkansas coaching staff signed three cornerbacks on National Signing Day after losing 10 years of experience at the position from fifth-year seniors Isaac Madison and Greg Gatson.
The Razorbacks officially added Ray Buchanan Jr. (Suwanee, Ga.), Jared Collins (Tulsa, Okla.), and Will Hines (Waco, Texas) on Wednesday. Arkansas cornerbacks coach Bobby Allen said the three newcomers would get an opportunity to compete for playing time immediately.
"The good thing about playing that position is that it’s not like offensive line where you have to sit in the weight room and physically mature more," Allen said. "If mentally you’re ready and you can pick up what we’re doing and athletically you’re ready to go, then you’ve got a chance to help us and those three kids have a good chance to help us."
Buchanan, son of Ray Buchanan Sr., had close family ties to the Arkansas staff.
"I coached his uncle, Bobby Buchanan, at Louisville," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "His dad, Ray Senior, was an NFL corner for 12 years. When I was coaching at Jacksonville, he was the best cornerback in the NFL."
"Ray was very heavily recruited, and I think because of the relationships Coach (Petrino) had with that family we were able to get him to commit early after his visit and it kind of just sealed the deal," Allen said.
"If you look at him on film, he’s very instinctive and plays with great pad-level, does a tremendous job with his eyes, plays tight coverage and he has a knack of making a play on the ball."
Collins, a 6-foot, 170-pound corner, played at the same high school as Arkansas safety Eric Bennett - Booker T. Washington in Tulsa - and was part of a team that recorded seven shutouts in a 13 win season.
"We've been treating Tulsa like it was part of the state of Arkansas for several years now. It's great to get another player out of there," Petrino said. "[Collins] is a young man that's really fast. He's the length you want and has long arms. I had a chance to watch him run track and he can really go. He's really fast."
Hines, the last to commit of the three corners, switched his pledge to Arkansas in January after previously committing to Missouri.
"Will played both corner and safety in high school. We're going to start him out at corner," Petrino said. "He has great speed and also played wide receiver. He was committed to another school but when Coach Haynes got here, we were able to get in there and get that changed."
"I felt good about him after our conversation in the spring," Allen said. "When Paul came in and he knew exactly what direction we were going to go with the secondary and who was going to be in place and who was going to coach what, I think that really solidified him wanting to come and visit. Once he did visit, he really fell in love. Our players did a great job and he loved the facilities and the direction we’re going as a football program.”