Frankly Speaking This 2015 Class Is Talented
Once upon a time – you know like back before the days of the SEC Network – Arkansas' 2015 recruiting class was in the top five nationally according to Scout.com.
That was because of a fast start including pledges from Charleston quarterback Ty Storey, Texas prep center Zach Rogers, Junction City defensive end Jamario Bell, Denmark defensive end Hjalte Froholdt, Conway offensive lineman Colton Jackson and Roland, Okla., tight end Austin Cantrell.
As of Friday, the Razorbacks'11-man class had slipped to 30th in those rankings – a fact that places it 11th in the SEC ahead of only Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, but also is a bit misleading.
That's because a look deeper into those ratings and you fill find something is a extremely positive - especially when you note that Scout.com's ratings use of an accumulated point total, means a program gets more points for the sheer number of commitments in combination with the talent level.
When you look at the average star rating per athlete for the Razorbacks' 2015 class – 3.36 – it puts Arkansas in the top half of the nation's most powerful football conference.
That mark would certainly elevate if the Razorbacks are able to land the two remaining uncommitted four-star recruits in the state - Dumas tight end Will Gragg and North Little Rock K.J. Hill - who will be in Fayetteville Saturday to see the Arkansas scrimmage.
Also if that remains above 3.06, it will be a new high-water mark for the Razorbacks since the 1990s.
In fact, there have only been three years in which Arkansas' class average per player was 3.00 since 2000.
The 2015 average star ratings say that Arkansas' recruits are on par with Florida and ahead of Mississippi State (3.15), Tennessee (3.32) and Kentucky (3.23) as well as the aforementioned teams.
It's something that Razorback recruiting coordinator E.K. Franks – who was hired after the 2014 class was signed – is aware of along with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema.
“I thought the summer was good for us,” Franks said. “We did get a late start because of the transition and stuff like that so the numbers it is not quite what I wanted, but for where we are at right now and the quality of kids we have commits from – I thought it was great.
“We got kids here for unofficial visits, we had a lot of kids here for camp and now we have a base to build on for next year,” Franks added. “I think next year is where you will see a huge jump in recruiting, but we have a great class going so far.”
Arkansas goes into this class with just 17 scholarships available for the 2015 class, but that number will reach 25 eventually according to Franks.
“I always tell people that it works its way to 25,” Franks said. “It is funny how that works, but for some reason it always works like that whether some are pushed backwards or some are pushed forward. That is always a good base number.
“For every one scholarship, you have to offer like four or five kids. Every year you have to offer 105 kids and then weed that down to the 25.” There is no doubt one area that Arkansas wants to add to with this current class per Franks.
“Defensive line – but that's the conference that we are in,” Franks said. “It's not just at this level, but it is at every level. We need D-line and we are going after them.”
Franks and the Arkansas staff will try to get as many kids as possible in for official visits because new NCAA rules allow just one weekend of on-campus recruiting in December.
“My philosophy is that if I know I can't get the kid on campus after the season, then we've got to bring him in during the season,” Franks said. “If there is any chance the kid can come and see the game-day atmosphere on his own, then we want to bring those kids in. Our game-day atmosphere is second to none and we want those kids to experience it.
“With the new dead period, there is only one weekend in December that you can bring kids in so that kind of threw the old school recruiting off a bit,” Franks added. “Everybody was adjusting to it last year. We really only have one weekend in December and the rest of them will be in January.
“The hardest thing about in-season visits is the coaches don't get to spend as much time around the kids because they are preparing for the game, so that puts more pressure on me and I need to step up to the plate.”
Franks also has a philosophy on where he thinks Arkansas needs to get the vast majority of the players – Ark-La-Tex.
“When I took the job, I kept repeating over and over – Ark-La-Tex, Ark-La-Tex,” Franks said. “Kids from those areas learn how to play football the right way. I think it is the competition, I think it is the weather and I think it is their state rules that allow them to have 20 practices in the spring instead of 10, that allow them to play in jamborees against other people.”
Arkansas did a very good job in getting a lot of kids on campus this summer for one-day unofficial visits – something that is a must with the new rules.
“It's huge because you get to focus on that one kid the whole day while he is on campus and his family,” Franks said. “ It is tremendous how that kid comes in and it is just one-on-one time from all different departments – academics, coaches, position coach, recruiting staff and the players. It is just one-on-one and anytime you can get that it works great for you.”