Recruiting Roundup: Arkansas Zooms Into Dead Period with Trio of Commits
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Recapping the Final Official Visit Weekend
Arkansas hosted 11 big-time prospects this weekend, ranging from commits to some of their top targets remaining on the board. With that, came quite the rush of stories, so here's your rundown to catch you up on anything you may have missed.
Kicking it off, we saw a pair of official visitors call the Hogs in Stephen Johnson and Alex Sanford, two three-star defenders that figure to add to the recent run of recruiting dominance we've seen from Barry Odom and his defensive staff.
As well as that, we saw a trio of current commits playing the role of recruiter in Carson Dean, Kaleb James and Quincy Rhodes. As well as that, they were able to continue building that bond among themselves. For more on their time on the Hill, check out the full story here.
Defensive backs coach Dominique Bowman is hopeful he can continue his flaming hot streak of recent recruiting momentum, and two guys on the Hill this weekend may be able to do just that.
Three-star CB Rickey Gibson made the trip from Trussville (Ala.) to get a look at what Arkansas has to offer, and he says that the only thing the trip could've done is boost the Razorbacks' odds.
Dylan Hasz was another key name that took place in the OV festivities this weekend, as he had arguably the best tour guide of them all - his own brother.
Luke, Dylan's brother, is Arkansas' highest-rated commitment of the Sam Pittman era, and his pitch to his brother was simple - "You can't get this anywhere else." For more on what Dylan thought of a potential reunion with his brother, check out the full story here.
Patterson, who added his offer at an Arkansas camp last week, scheduled his OV nearly immediately, and his interest was clear from the interview we included in our OV recap.
"(Chances) Definitely went up," Tease said. "Definitely went up… because I definitely got to see how I would thrive in the system and really it’s just a good spot man, It’s just a good spot.
"It’s not far from home. I like the campus. I like the people around me, the coaches. So it’s a good fit overall."
Dead Period Won't Stop Arkansas' Momentum
Though the NCAA's summer dead period kicked off Monday, the Razorbacks are showing no signs of slowing down.
The dead period provides a buffer for coaches between the grueling summer and fall schedules, allowing for somewhat of a reset. With that in mind, communication with 2023 prospects via text and call is still fair game, and the Hogs may be looking to take advantage of that with some congratulatory texts sooner rather than later.
Three priority targets have commitment dates set in the next week or so, the first of which coming later today in TJ Metcalf.
The Pinson Valley (Ala.) safety prospect has narrowed his list of more than two dozen offers down to four, and will be choosing from the foursome of Arkansas, Jackson State, Ole Miss and Penn State. A cousin of former Ole Miss superstar D.K., Metcalf has been pegged as an Arkansas lean down the stretch.
Also at the defensive back position is former Michigan State commit Jaylon Braxton, who has previously said he'd like to announce his commitment July 9, his mom's birthday.
Braxton, who was a member of the Spartan class at the time of his June official visit to Arkansas, spoke fondly of the Hogs prior to his decision to reopen his recruitment.
Ranked as a 5.8-four-star, Braxton would be Arkansas' highest-rated commitment at the position, and a massive flip for first-year defensive backs coach Dominique Bowman.
Last, but certainly not least is the highest-rated prospect of the bunch - and the most recently offered, Paris Patterson.
Patterson added his offer from the Razorbacks following a strong showing at the team's camp earlier last week. He made short work of scheduling an official visit, and, as we mentioned in the OV Recap section, the staff did their part.
The Rivals250 OG out of East St. Louis (Ill.) will have no shortage of options, and though he hasn't named any finalists, recent visits to Arkansas and Tennessee have them pegged as potential leaders.
With a July 4 date set, Cody Kennedy and Sam Pittman are certainly hoping to see more than just the city-wide fireworks show.
Hogs Hoping to Ride Past Relationships into Another Five-Star Commit
The contact period for the 2024 hoops class opened up a couple of weeks ago, and one of the first names Eric Musselman and Co. contacted was five-star Bishop Gorman (Nev.) guard Jase Richardson.
If that name sounds familiar to you, well, that's because it should. Jase's father, Jason, had a 14-year NBA career, where he played for five franchises. A former national champion for Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans in his own right, it appears the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree with Jase.
As well as the obvious draw of playing for a team that's made it to the Elite-Eight in back to back seasons, the Razorbacks are hoping to draw on another ace they have up their sleeve.
Jason was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2001, and spent time under both Musselman and current Razorback assistant Keith Smart. Though that connection, as well as his ties to Michigan State are evident, Jason doesn't want them to play a deciding factor for his son.
“It’s pretty cool to see that happening and how it comes full circle, but at the same time, certain things, it just is what it is,” Jason said. “You know, Michigan State, everybody automatically thinks he’s gonna go to Michigan State once he got that offer, but this is totally his decision.
“He has to go to the best situation for him, he has to make that decision himself, because he’s the one that’s going to be on campus, he’s the one that has to go to practice and deal with the yelling from whichever coach it’s coming from.
“Sometimes you hear the whispering, ‘Well, they’ve got a prior relationship.’ I don’t want his recruitment to be overlooked because of the relationships I have. Jase is a heck of a ball player, he’s a great young person, a great young man and a great student. That’s all in his hard work and dedication and has nothing to do with the relationships I had.”
For more from the former Top-5 pick and what his connections could mean for Arkansas, check out these feature stories from Jackson Collier.
Among the flurry of additions to Arkansas' tenth-ranked 2023 class, the Hogs saw a player opt to reopen his recruitment for the second time.
Everett Roussaw, a linebacker out of Cedar Grove (Ga.), announced Tuesday afternoon that he'd be decommitting from the Razorbacks after a five-month pledge to the team.
After committing after the team's first round of Junior Days back in January, Roussaw seemed locked in with Arkansas up to the very end, even saying of his official visit a couple of weeks ago "We’re forming a brotherhood.
"We’ve been texting in a group chat, just trying to get a connection and a bond strong before coming up here. Those are my dogs and we just had a good weekend and enjoyed ourselves.”
Roussaw will be weighing his Power 5 offers from Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State and Missouri, as well as Arkansas and a number of G5 and HBCU options.
For more on what Roussaw's decision means for Arkansas and its '23 class, check out our full story here.
Johsnon stands an impressive 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, making him the tallest of Arkansas' three DB commits by a fair margin. Rated as a high-three-star by Rivals, Johnson had his fair share of options, including Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt out of the SEC.
His commitment also marks a milestone for Arkansas' presence in Johnson's home state, as he became the 13th to call the Hogs by way of the Peach State in the last four classes.
For more on Johnson's commitment and what it means for Arkansas, you can read our full story here.
One visit was all it took for Oxford (Miss.) linebacker Alex Sanford to call the Hogs, as he made his announcement immediately after leaving campus Sunday.
The 5.7-three-star chose Arkansas over his hometown Ole Miss Rebels and his other top schools in Jackson State and Tennessee.
Sanford joins Carson Dean as the lone linebacker commits following Everett Roussaw's departure earlier this week, and provides yet another quality three-star prospect within this Arkansas class.
The Hogs added their second DT in less than a week to the 2023 class, this time with 5.5-three-star Stephen Johnson.
Johnson, who chose Arkansas over the likes of Liberty and Maryland, made somewhat of a snap decision, after initially planning his commitment for July 4.
Though he is a newer offer for the Hogs, Johnson says he felt the family atmosphere from the staff.
At 6-foot-4, 315-pounds, Johnson has the size to make waves when he gets to campus next fall, and figures to turn some heads throughout his senior season.
In addition to the monumental hot streak that football has been on in the '23 class, the Hoop Hogs made it known that you shouldn't forget about them with their first commitment.
That comes in the form of the nation's No. 37 player, Layden Blocker. Though he is enrolled at Sunrise Christian Academy, Blocker is a Little Rock native, so the decision to come home rather than opting to play for Kansas or Kansas State (or any other school he could've wanted to attend) shouldn't be a surprise.
In addition to his No. 37 ranking, it wouldn't be far-fetched to expect Blocker earn his fifth-star sooner rather than later, as he's been an absolute force throughout summer ball.