The Sam Pittman Recruiting Strategy
Stuck in a deep hole with just six 2020 commits ahead of early national signing day, Sam Pittman has made quick work of the class with three weeks to go until the next dead period and the traditional National Signing Period beginning on February 5.
Pittman held on to the three in-state commits that Morris had, shed the three other out-of-state commits and is now up to 15 public commits. The Hogs hosted 9 undecided official visitors from the high school ranks last weekend, landing three, and they're hosting seven more this weekend.
Pulling in those kind of numbers is impressive, as are the types of recruits Pittman and his staff are in on heading into the final stretch. Arkansas has a chance at several 4-star prospects (all from out of state) and even hosted their first 5-star prospect in a very long time.
"We’re sitting on the board trying to get to 25 and we feel like we have an opportunity to do that, and not just guys, guys you want," Pittman said in an interview with HawgBeat. "Obviously there are some spots we’re short on numbers, one of them being the quarterback.
"Secondary is short and linebackers are short, obviously tight ends. Those four places. You have to make sure you have enough on your board so if you miss on this guy or that guy you can fill those spots with guys you like. We have to get our numbers back up there with good players.”
Arkansas was in a pinch for the 2020 class and they're already quite behind for the 2021 class. They've sent out more than 40 2021 offers over the past few weeks but most programs are up to 100+ and they hosted juniors all season long in 2019.
Pittman knows what it takes to recruit well in the SEC but he says his time at Georgia helped him become even better. While Arkansas doesn't have the national prominence that Georgia has, or the in-state talent, the approach the staffs take at both schools shouldn't differ.
"Coach Smart is a relentless attacker in recruiting," Pittman said. "I knew how to recruit, I felt like, going into Georgia, but it was just amped up. It was just, ‘Have you talked to the mother? Did you text dad last night? When’s the last time you talked to the kid?’ It was pressure into making sure that we were having contact with kids more than somebody else.
"It’s not really recruiting. It’s just really getting to know each other is what it is. If you take the recruiting word out of it and you say, ‘I’m going to get to know you,’ well the only way I’m going to get to know you is to be in constant contact with you.
"It’s who do you know and at the end of the day, do they like you or like your university or several reasons enough to where they can’t say no. That’s called relationship building. You’ve got to find out who’s important to them. Everybody’s momma is important to them and everybody’s dad is important to them. Sometimes grandma and sometimes the coach. You just have to find that out and make sure that it’s a constant communication with those folks."
So far, Arkansas has extended offers to 2021 prospects from coast to coast–from quarterbacks out in California to linebackers up in Michigan and defensive ends out in South Carolina. Despite the early, widespread recruiting, Pittman thinks the Hogs will make the most of their money closer to home.
"I feel like we’re a regional recruiting base," Pittman said. "I believe we’re going to hit the bordering states. We’ll have several coaches down in Texas. Georgia is a piece as well, we’ll have presence in Florida. We’re a regional recruiting university so we’re going to hammer the state of Arkansas with all 10 coaches, we’ll hit junior colleges in Kansas and Mississippi."
Arkansas has to rely on talent from other states to make up the bulk of their recruiting classes but the new head hog hopes to keep preferred walk-on opportunities for recruits who call the Natural State home–a practice not quite adopted by Chad Morris.
"We are the University of Arkansas...if we had two equal players, we certainly want the one from Arkansas to be a part of the university," Pittman said.
Arkansas most likely won't be able to climb higher than the 30-35 range for this year's recruiting class but it sounds like Pittman has a sound strategy to start recruiting with the best of them going forward.