By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — When Kendal Briles hits the recruiting trail trying to find quarterbacks and some other playmakers on offense he prefers to do it in a van.
Briles, Arkansas’ offensive coordinator, talked about the spring evaluation period when the coaches were finally allowed out. The past two years they were prevented from going out in the spring due to COVID protocols in place with the NCAA.
“Well, if they had the van, I got the van,” Briles said. “But if not, then I’d get something else. We all have a place in Arkansas where we go, a region, so able to hit those schools early on. It’s great to be able to get out in Arkansas. We hadn’t been able to do that much, so being able to get out here and go to different high schools and talk with coaches, that was great. I’ve got an area in Houston and in Dallas and then spot recruiting quarterbacks has been kind of the main thing, and high-priority offensive guys has been what I did in the spring.
“It was great. It was great to be able to get out. There’s times there when it’s a grind. When you’re recruiting during the week and coming back you’ve got official visits, you’re not seeing your family as much as you’d want to, so FaceTime helps, but it was good being able to get out there and see people.”
The Razorbacks currently have two scholarship quarterbacks on campus and one committed in the Class of 2023. They have also two preferred walk-on quarterbacks who were on scholarship elsewhere including a former four-star. Both the walk-on quarterbacks came from the transfer portal.
“With the transfer portal in general, it just makes it always difficult with your roster, whatever position that may be,” Briles said. “I feel like, probably for everybody, it’s really important to get a high school guy that you like that wins and that fits your team and your culture and where you want to go with your program. That being said, this day and age, if you’ve got four guys (QBs) on the roster all on scholarship and one’s not playing, what’s he going to do? He’s gonna go in the transfer portal. So there’s gonna be guys that are available. If at some point you had a guy leave or something happens with them off the field, there’s always going to be guys available in the portal.
“At this point in our program, where we are, we would like to be able to stay with high school guys to come in here and develop. But things are always changing. You’ve got to be aware of it and you’ve got to be able to change as a coach as well. But we look for guys that are winners. I like, we like, a mobile player. I think especially in the SEC and where we’re at with this program, we’ve got to play some 11 on 11 football at some point and you’ve got to have a guy who can create plays on his own. So if I call something bad, he makes it look good. I like guys like that. So we’ve got some guys in the room that can make plays with their feet and you’ve got to have a leader. A guy that everybody in the locker room when he talks they listen to him. And he’s got to take care of himself on and off the field at all times. You’ve got to have that in that room. We feel good about the ones we’ve got and the one’s we’re recruiting.”
KJ Jefferson is a redshirt junior who was a four-star recruit out of high school. Malik Hornsby is a redshirt sophomore who also was a four-star recruit. Cade Fortin is a redshirt senior who transferred to Arkansas from South Florida. He was a four-star recruit out of high school and signed with North Carolina where he played two years. Kade Renfro is a redshirt sophomore who transferred to Arkansas from Ole Miss. Fortin was on scholarship at both North Carolina and USF while Renfro was at Ole Miss. Briles was asked what it says about the Arkansas program to attract two former scholarship quarterback as a walk on?
“It’s huge, you know,” Briles said. “I don’t know what it says. I know how it feels. It feels good having them in the quarterback room. Those guys are Power 5 scholarship quarterbacks, and they’re in our room, and they’re paying for their school. I think it shows that this program is on the rise. I think it shows that these kids trust what we have going on here. And then, we talked about the transfer portal earlier. You know, guys can get in there and sit in there for a while and not have a home and maybe not get exactly what they want. And I think that’s another good use for the portal. Guys that sit in there for a long time, and if they’re given hope – whether that’s monetarily or not with a scholarship – then you can get some guys on your campus. Once you get a guy over here to Fayetteville and show him the place and let him feel our culture, then they want to be a part of it.”
The Razorbacks have a commitment from Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb four-star quarterback Malachi Singleton. One quarterback, Lucas Coley, transferred to Houston in the spring.