BREAKING: Hogs land talented 2023 DE from Texas
It may have been his own birthday, but it was Kaleb James who gave the Arkansas coaches and fans a present Tuesday afternoon.
Just a few days removed from his latest visit to Fayetteville, the high three-star defensive end from Texas announced his commitment to the Razorbacks via Twitter on his 17th birthday.
“(I picked Arkansas) just because Coach Pittman is so real and everything about Arkansas is just blue-collar and work hard,” James said. “That’s the type of person I am.
“I think Coach Pittman has really turned the program around. When he got (the job), the team wasn’t doing too hot. He’s totally turned this program and doing good things with it.”
Arkansas now has six public commitments in the 2023 class, which - according to the Rivals database - is tied for the third-most in the country, and the group currently checks in at No. 5 nationally.
James, who has a 5.7 rating from Rivals, chose the Razorbacks over numerous Power Five offers, including from Baylor, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Utah and others.
The decision is not particularly surprising, as James has made several trips to Fayetteville - including once during the pandemic-induced dead period just to see the campus - and it was following a solid performance at camp last summer that he earned an offer.
Since then, James has been back for a recruiting cookout, witnessed the Razorbacks’ win over Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium and experienced his first game at Razorback Stadium in October. He was at Junior Day this past Saturday and he plans to return this weekend, as well.
“That was a crazy game,” James said about the Texas A&M win. “Didn’t really know what to expect going into it. I knew Arkansas would get the job done. So that’s what I believed in the beginning and that’s what ended up happening.”
James has played the last few seasons at Nolan Catholic High, a private school in Fort Worth, Texas, but will play his senior season at Mansfield, which competes at the Class 6A level in the Lone Star State.
As a sophomore with the Vikings, James made 57 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He followed that up with an even more impressive junior season, racking up 95 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 33 quarterback hurries in 12 games.
Now at Mansfield, James will take the field alongside fellow 2023 prospect Brenden Jordan, a four-star safety and the No. 229 overall recruit who is also a top target for Arkansas.
Although he’s listed as a strong-side defensive end on Rivals, checking in at No. 33 in the country at that position, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound lineman could potentially gain weight and move inside to tackle at Arkansas.
James said that isn’t something he’s discussed with defensive line coach Jermial Ashley yet, but he seems open to it because “all that matters to me” is playing football. It also helps that he has a “really good” relationship with Ashley.
“We FaceTime every now and then, talk to each other, catch up on each other's weeks and see how each other is doing,” James said. “I think he's a really good coach. Very humble guy and overall a really good coach."
The Razorbacks now have two defensive players committed for 2023, as James follows defensive back Dallas Young. Their first four commitments in the class were all on the offensive side of the ball: tight ends Shamar Easter and Jaden Hamm, offensive lineman Joey Su’a and wide receiver Anthony Evans III.