Arkansas' history of 5-star football recruits
Landing a player the caliber of Jadon Haselwood, a former top-5 prospect, out of the transfer portal would be a big deal for any school, but especially so at Arkansas.
Not known as a recruiting juggernaut, the Razorbacks have signed only a handful of five-star recruits or transfers during the modern era of recruiting services.
In fact, since Rivals started rating players in 2002, only four other 5-star recruits have worn an Arkansas uniform. Here’s a look at the club Haselwood will join…
Darren McFadden - Class of 2005
A two-way standout at Oak Grove High in central Arkansas, McFadden earned a scholarship from the Razorbacks after he was clocked at 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash during a Houston Nutt Camp when he was just 15 years old. He was the second commitment in Arkansas’ 2005 class and remained solid despite the likes of Alabama and Tennessee offering later in the process.
Some experts believed he’d make a great safety, but instead, McFadden played running back in college and became arguably the best player in UA history. In just three seasons, he racked up a school-record 4,590 yards and 41 touchdowns. A two-time Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up, McFadden was No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and enjoyed a 10-year professional career.
Mitch Mustain - Class of 2006
The most heralded member of the famed “Springdale Five” who played for Gus Malzahn at Springdale High, Mustain led the Bulldogs to a dominant undefeated season that ended with a No. 2 national ranking. According to Rivals, he was the No. 2 quarterback in the 2006 class, sandwiched between Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow. He also earned National Player of the Year accolades from Gatorade, USA Today and Parade Magazine.
In a wild recruitment that included a brief decommitment, Mustain ultimately turned down Notre Dame, Alabama, Tennessee and many others to stay home and play for the Razorbacks. He actually started eight games during Arkansas’ 10-game winning streak as a true freshman, but inconsistent play and drama between Malzahn, the Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator, and Nutt eventually led to him being benched and replaced by Casey Dick. Following the season, Mustain transferred to USC and never lived up to the hype surrounding him coming out of high school.
Ryan Mallett - Class of 2007 (transfer in 2008 class)
The son of a high school football coach who had multiple stops in the Natural State, Mallett grew up attending camps at Arkansas before playing his high school ball at Texas High in Texarkana. With Mustain in the fold with the Razorbacks, though, he ultimately signed with Michigan. However, after Mallett’s freshman season, head coach Lloyd Carr retired.
With Carr retiring, Mustain transferring and Bobby Petrino being hired at Arkansas, the Razorbacks got back in the mix for the strong-armed quarterback when he decided to transfer. After sitting out the 2008 season because of transfer rules, Mallett became a two-year starter and arguably the best quarterback in school history. He broke the UA single-season records for passing yards (3,869) and touchdowns (32) in 2010, when he led the Razorbacks to their first and only BCS bowl game. After being taken in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Mallett bounced around the NFL for seven years.
Darius Winston - Class of 2009
A five-star cornerback from Helena-West Helena, Winston is another player who briefly decommitted from the Razorbacks before deciding to stay home. Arkansas held off a strong push by Ole Miss to secure his services as the crown jewel of its highest-ranked recruiting class of the Rivals era, as it ended up No. 16 for the Class of 2009.
Although he’s the only one of the four players to spend a full four years with the Razorbacks, Winston never lived up to the hype. He appeared in 37 games, but made just 14 career starts. His lone interception was against UTEP in sophomore year and he finished his career with only 52 tackles and two pass breakups.
Other Notable Players
Ahmad Carroll - Class of 2001
Not included in the above list because he was part of the 2001 class, just before the start of the Rivals era, Carroll was a five-star recruit and No. 14 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite. Nicknamed “Batman,” he was also an All-American sprinter for the Razorbacks. On the gridiron, he racked up 150 tackles, 25 pass breakups and four interceptions in three seasons before becoming a first-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
Alex Collins - Class of 2013
The biggest score of Bret Bielema’s first signing class at Arkansas, Collins was a 5.9 four-star recruit and No. 117 overall prospect, according to Rivals, but was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 running back on 247Sports. The Florida native finished his career as the Razorbacks’ second all-time leading rusher with 3,703 yards and broke a 46-year-old school record when he scored 20 rushing touchdowns in 2015. A fifth-round pick in 2016, Collins is still playing in the NFL.
McTelvin Agim - Class of 2016
Although he claims Texarkana, Texas, as his hometown, Agim played his high school ball in Hope. He was a 6.0 four-star recruit and the No. 50 overall prospect, according to Rivals, but was a five-star prospect on 247Sports. With the Razorbacks, he bounced back and forth between defensive end and defensive tackle. Agim ultimately finished his career with 141 tackles, including 31 for loss and 14.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles.