After five days of breaking down recruits, it's time to take a pause until Monday to take a step back and look at the overall picture of what is going on as far as recruiting in the Arkansas football program.
Sam Pittman's staff has put together the No. 7 recruiting class in the country. That will fluctuate to some degree, but a change in the air around Arkansas recruiting indicates the fall won't be as significant as often seen in years past once the usual suspects start landing the Top of the Top candidates.
So why should Hog fans finally feel a level of confidence instead of the typical feeling of Charlie Brown trying to kick a football?
THE TALENT IS MORE TALENTED
Most fans will look at stars alone and wonder how this class is rated so high. However, that's not the way to break down this class.
Someone who looks at this group from the standpoint of there only being five 4-star athletes currently committed might be justified in arguing from the traditional pessimistic viewpoint.
However, a deeper dive into the numbers shows Arkansas has four recruits on the ESPN 300 list in this class. To put that in perspective, here is a breakdown of the current number SEC opponents have in comparison to Arkansas.
Every team on this list is currently rated behind Arkansas except Georgia, which currently has a slight edge at No. 6. The Crimson Tide will eventually catch the Razorbacks, but it's going to take a lot of movement by the rest of the teams to make a run at the Hogs.
After last year's recruiting coup, it seemed a safe bet that A&M's alumni had deep enough pockets to deliver a Top 2 class again. However, Aggie coaches broke the only rule in the NIL Wild West – don't openly talk to recruits about how much NIL money they are going to make if they come to your school (on camera).
Texas A&M has the No. 57 class. If Nick Saban gently nudges people at the NCAA to come down on Jimbo Fisher's program, it might cast a cloud over the program dark enough to keep them from passing Arkansas.
Of the 157 ESPN 300 athletes who aren't committed, 105 fall in the SEC footprint. The majority will end up in the SEC, while the usual national brands siphon off their cut.
The good news for Arkansas is the list is filled with high school programs from which the Hogs have snagged recruits in the past. There is also significant chatter that some of these names are seriously considering coming to Fayetteville, and at least one is drifting into the likely category.
The other factor is that several Razorback 3-star recruits have enough room for growth to potentially move up to low 4-stars. Such a boost would go a long way in keeping this class floating near the top.
THE BEST RECRUITERS MIGHT NOT WORK FOR THE UNIVERSITY
For the first time in a long time there is a strong positive energy around the program. There seems to be a true buy-in among the players that has bled over to the recruits.
In years past, it wasn't uncommon to hear tales of recruits showing up to Arkansas recruiting visits with the intention of targeting specific players in an effort to convince them to come where they intended to commit instead.
However, quite the opposite is true now. Recruits are specifically scheduling their visits to coincide with guys they hope to convince to join them while also layering on a heavy public recruiting pitch through social media.
Stories of Dallas Young's involvement in helping land T.J. Metcalf and the swiftness of Kaleb James reaching out to Lone Star (Frisco, Texas) defensive back Jaylon Braxton to convince him to come to Fayetteville after Braxton decommitted from Michigan State are a small portion of a huge effort by Hog recruits to get in the ear of others.
ESPN 300 recruit Micah Tease, whose main photo on his Twitter page features Alabama players celebrating, isn't bothering with a third visit to Arkansas without Luke Hasz selling him on it. Cole Adams, who just committed to Alabama, doesn't have Arkansas grouped in with Oklahoma and the Crimson Tide as his finalists if recruits aren't speaking soft nothings into his ear about the program.
As fun as Kendal Briles's mom-mobile is to follow while it darts across the country, these coaches aren't bring the Who's Who visitor list they have managed to generate without the social media campaign and personal recruiting these commits have put together.
In an NIL world where Arkansas is massively out-gunned financially, it's been supremely impressive to see what a cultural change has done at Arkansas. Success has begat success.
Outside of football, Arkansas has been the most dominant SEC athletic program over the past couple of years. Immersing recruits from all sports in the atmosphere at basketball, baseball and softball games has shown how fun and crazy things can be.
The recent change in the experience at football games will only contribute to further lifting the athletic program as a whole. Something as simple as being respected enough to avoid 11 a.m. games makes a huge difference in the recruiting process for everyone involved.
Arkansas is probably one more year away from being a legitimate threat at a Top 10 class once the ink is dry, but even being in the conversation when schools like Texas A&M, Ohio State, USC and Alabama are able to throw around millions to land recruits says a lot about where this program landed once it came out of the pandemic.
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