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February 5, 2014

Class of 2014 Report Card





Barring any late surprises, Arkansas' signing class of 2014 is pretty much in the books. Now is a good time to see how the Razorbacks fared.

Let's just get right to it.

Quarterback: A

Needed: 1
Signed: Rafe Peavey
Missed: None

The Razorbacks landed two quarterbacks in Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell in last year's class, making it easy for them to take just one at the position in 2014. Peavey was already committed to the program well before Bret Bielema arrived in Fayetteville, and it didn't take him long to realize he needed to keep the four-star from Bolivar (Mo.) on board.

Peavey was considered one of the top 250 overall prospects in the nation by Rivals.com, but here were two knocks that kept him from being an even higher-ranked prospect in this year's class: His size, and the competition he faced in 3A high school football in Missouri.

However, there wasn't much more he could have possibly done to prove himself on the field. His career totals are staggering. He finished with 5,990 passing yards and 54 touchdown passes while also adding 2,718 yards and 53 more scores as a runner. It should be noted that he rarely played a full four-quarter game, especially as a senior when he led Bolivar to 12 wins with an average margin of victory of 30.6 points.

Peavey was an Under Armour All-America selection and made quite an impression among several national analysts after putting together a solid performance in the game. He finished 7 of 11 for 73 yards and a touchdown, and his three drives resulted in two touchdowns and a missed field goal.

It's difficult to say whether or not Peavey will have an immediate impact as a true freshman, but he has all the tools to develop into a good SEC quarterback in time.

Running Back: C+

Needed: 1-2
Signed: Juan Day
Missed: Dalvin Cook

This position wasn't a huge priority in this year's class since the Hogs basically signed three running backs in last year's class in Alex Collins, Denzell Evans and Korliss Marshall. They took a swing at Rivals100 running back Dalvin Cook and had him on campus for an official visit in November, but the former Florida Gators commit ended up going with Florida State.

Arkansas was also heavily involved with Texas commit Kevin Shorter, who suffered an unfortunate career-threatening injury during his senior season.

Day, 6-1, 205, committed to the Hogs in January 2013 and never wavered in his pledge. He suffered a torn ACL in the third game of his senior season, but he is on track with his rehab and should be back to full strength this summer. The cousin of former Razorback and All-SEC performer Cedric Cobbs isn't a burner, but he has a frame that should allow him to become a much bigger and stronger power back in Bielema's offense.

Wide Receiver: B+

Needed: 4-5
Signed: Cody Hollister, Jared Cornelius, Kendrick Edwards, JoJo Robinson
Missed: Frank Iheanacho, Johnnie Dixon

This was one of the most important positions in this year's class and it ended up being a nice haul for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas got two early enrollees who will be able to go through spring ball in JUCO transfer Cody Hollister, 6-4, 200, and Shreveport (La.) Evangel's Jared Cornelius, 6-0, 185. The Hogs also went into Miami (Fla.) and addressed its need for size and speed with 6-5, 200-pound Kendrick Edwards and shifty playmaker JoJo Robinson, both of whom held a long list of impressive offers.

The Hogs did strike out on a couple of big-time receivers who visited Fayetteville in Dixon and Iheanacho, but finishing with Edwards and Robinson down the stretch definitely helped make up for it.

Tight End: D

Needed: 2-3
Signed: Jack Kraus
Missed: Deandre Goolsby, Blake Whiteley

Bielema said last season that the best thing he could do for Freshman All-American tight end Hunter Henry is go out and sign another one just like him in this year's class.

The Hogs failed to do that as their top targets ended up at Florida and Texas, respectively. Arkansas also parted ways with longtime commitment Ravian Pierce due to non-football reasons, leaving them with only one tight end addition for the Class of 2014.

Kraus is more of a blocking tight end who has a chance to be very big after a year or two in the weight room. He's currently 6-4, 250 and still growing.

Offensive Line: A+

Needed: 3-5
Signed: Frank Ragnow, Sebastian Tretola, Brian Wallace, Jovan Pruitt
Missed: Jermaine Eluemunor, Andrew Mike

For the second year in-a-row, offensive line is the strength of Arkansas' class.

Sam Pittman followed a fantastic 2013 offensive line class with another very good one in this year's class. All three of his new additions were very heavily recruited and had big-time offer lists.

Tretola was expected to enroll in January but had a little more work to do before making it to Fayetteville. The 6-3, 320-pounder projects at guard at the next level. Ragnow, 6-6, 290, will be given a look at the center position when he arrives on campus. Wallace was the biggest get in the bunch as a Rivals100 member and the No. 1 prospect in the state of Missouri. He will be a tackle at Arkansas. Pruitt has a chance to be a very good one down the road as well.

Pittman and the Hogs landed commitments from four-star JUCO talent Jermaine Eluemunor last summer, but Arkansas' disappointing 3-9 season caused Eluemunor to reconsider before finally landing at Texas A&M. Arkansas was also a finalist for Mike, who committed to Vanderbilt on Monday and then flipped to Florida on Tuesday.

Defensive Line: C+

Needed: 4-5
Signed: Bijhon Jackson, Armon Watts, Anthony Brown, Jake Hall
Missed: Solomon Thomas, Demetrius Jackson, Abu Lamin, Craig Evans, Josh Frazier

Bijhon Jackson was the best player in Arkansas this year and never wavered after committing to the Hogs in December 2012. The 6-2, 330-pounder will be expected to make immediate contributions this fall as the Razorbacks look to replace four seniors from last year's team.

Brown is a solid sleeper pick, but he's only played two years of football and may need a year or two to develop in practice and in the weight room. He pulled in late offers from Michigan State and Mississippi State before deciding on the Hogs. Brown has loads of athleticism and could turn into a good player for the Razorbacks in time.

Hall is another sleeper who completely transformed his body from 255 pounds down to 230 pounds from a year ago. He impressed the Razorbacks at camp last summer and earned a full-ride scholarship from the Hogs this past fall. Hall is definitely one to keep tabs in the future.

Watts, 6-3, 280, earned a scholarship offer from the Razorbacks last summer and didn't need long to decide he wanted to be a Hog. He never wavered in his pledge and played a key role in helping Arkansas land his teammate, four-star offensive tackle Brian Wallace.

Arkansas missed too many very good ones to call this more than an average group.

Linebacker: C-

Needed: 4-5
Signed: Randy Ramsey, Khalia Hackett, Dwayne Eugene
Missed: Kenny Young, Jimmie Swain, Sharieff Rhaheed

This grade is based more on who Arkansas missed than who they signed. Linebacker was one of the Hogs' top priorities in this class based on the depth and talent level of the current roster.

Arkansas got three athletic additions in Ramsey, Eugene and Hackett, but there's still question marks in the group. All three will be faced with a transition, as Ramsey played a number of different positions in high school while Eugene and Hackett both played safety for their respective teams.

Ramsey, 6-3, 210, is a popular sleeper pick because of what he did against 6A competition in the state of Florida (23 sacks, 28 tackles for loss as a senior). His commitment helped raise this position grade to a C-. Eugene, 6-1, 222, was impressive in covering wide receivers at Arkansas' camp last summer, and he's known as a solid tackler in the state of Louisiana. Hackett, 6-3, 210, is one of this year's biggest mysteries, but he had an impressive senior season that included 85 tackles and 4 interceptions.

Arkansas missed on some very good ones, though. Young, Swain and Rhaheed all made at least one trip to Fayetteville but chose different schools in the end.

Cornerback: B

Needed: 3
Signed: Christopher Murphy, Henre' Toliver, Cornelius Floyd
Missed: Lamont Simmons

This is a nice group. Arkansas had to go out and find some guys who can improve what has been a below average group of corners for several years now. There's not a 4 or 5-star in the bunch, but there is a good blend of size, speed, and guys who played against some of the top high school teams in Florida, Louisiana and Georgia on a weekly basis.

Murphy, 5-10, 181, enrolled last month and will benefit from going through spring ball in March and April. He had 31 tackles and 5 pass break-ups as a senior. Floyd, 6-1, 180, has the speed, length, cover skills and tackling ability that coaches are looking for. Toliver, 6-1, 177, may prove to be the best of the bunch. He had an impressive offer list and could help the Hogs right away.

The Razorbacks hosted Simmons on an official visit on January 17 but weren't able to close the deal late.

Safety: C-

Needed: 2-3
Signed: Santos Ramirez, Joshua Liddell
Missed: Steven Parker, C.J. Hampton, Shawn Boone

Safety was another top priority in Arkansas' 2014 class. The Hogs missed on a few of their top targets but were able to land a couple who might play as true freshmen in Ramirez and Liddell.

Ramirez was up to 187 pounds when he officially visited Arkansas in December and will probably be close to 200 by the time the season rolls around. He's a very fluid athlete who could probably cornerback in the SEC.

Liddell was the most overlooked talent in the state this year. The 6-0, 198-pounder has 4.5 speed and will get his first look at safety, though the Hogs believe he could also play cornerback or even running back.

Arkansas hosted Boone, Parker and Hampton on official visits but failed to land any of them.

Specialist: A+

Needed: 1 K
Signed: Cole Hedlund
Missed: None

Arkansas lost one of the SEC's best kickers to graduation last year but went out and got one of the nation's best in Hedlund.

Hedlund set national and state kicking records for his state championship team in 2013. He's only 5-9, 165 but owns one of the strongest legs in the country. He chose the Hogs over Texas A&M and Oklahoma.

Overall Grade: B-

The Hogs had a chance to finish on a high note with signing day announcements from Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson, and getting at least one of those two would have been big for momentum purposes alone.

There are some good players in this class, and Arkansas filled needs at cornerback and wide receiver. However, they also needed a lot more help at linebacker and safety, and it looks like they'll have to make up for it in next year's class.


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