There is no doubt that this weekend could go a long way toward just how much success the Arkansas football program has in the near future.
The Razorbacks are hosting close to 20 prospects – including at least three that are scheduled to enroll in school and be with the team in January – on official visits this weekend.
Two of them have already signed financial aid agreements with Arkansas in Bolivar, Mo., quarterback Rafe Peavey (6-2, 212) and Marietta, Ga., Lassiter cornerback Chris Murphy (5-10, 180).
Shreveport, La., Evangel Christian wide receiver Jared Cornelius (6-1, 190) is also visiting this weekend and has plans to sign his with the Razorbacks after this visit.
Another mid-term possibility is Meridian, Miss., safety and Ole Miss commit C.J. Hampton, who visited Arkansas last week although it is expected he will land with the Rebels or flip to Alabama.
This weekend’s visitors also include a trio of uncommitted mid-term grads – all who arrived Thursday - that would also go through spring practice in Iowa Western offensive tackle Sebastian Tretola (6-5, 315) and the Arizona Western duo of wide receiver Cody Hollister (6-4, 205) and tight end Blake Whiteley (6-5, 240).
The Razorbacks also brought in Houston, Texas, Westside wide receiver Frank Iheanacho (6-7, 220), who came in Wednesday to start his visit and will move on to Oregon.
Why so much interest in mid-term guys?
Simple according to on-campus recruiting coordinator Chris Hauser, who notes that the Razorbacks could bring in as many as “six-to-eight” mid-term guys if the opportunity presents itself.
“I think it is invaluable to our program and to the players to get them in here early, get them acclimated to going to school, get them in our off-season program, give them the opportunity to learn our offense, defense and special team aspects,” Hauser said. “Especially those that have the ability to come in and make an impact right away – which is what you are looking for them to have.”
Others set to visit this weekend include Razorback pledges in the Metairie, La., Archbishop Rummel duo of linebacker Dwayne Eugene (6-2, 215) and cornerback Henre’ Toliver (6-1, 180) – who played for the Division I state title on Thursday night.
Three other Louisiana prep stars committed to Arkansas due in are Evangel safety Santos Ramirez (6-2, 190) and Geismar Dutchtown wide receivers Torrance Mosley (5-10, 175) and Corey McBride (6-2, 190).
The other four visitors due in are Arkansas offensive line pledge Jovan Pruitt (6-5, 300) and safety Payton Hendrix (6-3, 190) of Dallas Bishop, Texas, Rogers linebacker Zach Wary (6-4, 220) and Springdale Har-Ber defensive end and Razorback commit Jake Hall (6-5, 236) of Springdale Har-Ber.
Arkansas has 17 current pledges on its way to signing 26 players in the 2014 class – one initial qualifier which can be counted back to the 2013 class.
Hauser notes that the staff – finishing up 14 straight days on the road recruiting - has been very successful in convincing recruits that they are not as far away as a 3-9 record last season would indicate.
“Our coaches have gotten even more of a positive response this week than they did the first week out,” Hauser said. “We have been very happy and think that is in large part to how hard our coaches work and how our message has really resonated with the kids.
“That message is that we are not as far off as the 3-9 record would make it appear,” Hauser added. “We were better at the end of the year than we were at the start. There were a lot of young guys who were some of our better players and we just have to add some more at key positions to make a move upwards.
“We've certainly have seen this year how it can happen with Auburn and Missouri,” Hauser continued. “We want to be the next team that does that in the SEC and we think we can be if we add the right guys.”