FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas currently has three commitments from the transfer portal and will be looking to add more going forward.
They also have 23 high school commitments and some of those are visiting other schools this weekend. Sam Pittman is obviously hoping to hold onto that group as well including three fouir-star tight ends who have been committed for a few months. Newly hired assistant Morgan Turner and Kendal Briles, the offensive coordinator, were on the road Thursday seeing them.
“I think it did on all of them, to be honest with you,” Pittman said of Turner seeing the tight end recruits. “We’re trying to hold on to guys going and visiting and guys that have been recruited by us for a long time. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to hold on to every one of them from not going to a visit. But I think at least a couple of them won’t. They’ll be here for us.
“I think he made a nice impression on them from talking to the parents after he left. I sent Kendal with him. I just didn’t want to send him in there by himself, which is another problem with where it’s going on right now because instead of going out and seeing the high school kids right now, you’re either going to the portal, if you lose a coach then you’re going to the guys. A lot of things going on. Everybody’s dealing with it, but will it hurt high school recruiting? I believe that it will and it is.”
The tight ends committed are Ashdown’s Shamar Easter, 6-5, 225; Bixby (Okla.) High School’s Luke Hasz, 6-3, 245; and Eudora (Kan.) High School’s Jaden Hamm, 6-7, 235. Turner came to Arkansas from Stanford where he was responsible for sending a long line of tight ends to the NFL.
“I talked to Coach (David) Shaw and talked to Morgan’s dad, Ron,” Pittman said. “Talked to the D-coordinator at Stanford. Talked to a lot of people. To be honest with you, once I saw his resume and Stanford and what he had done out there, I wanted to hire him. I couldn’t find a reason not to. It’d be hard pressed to me to have a tight end coach that’s had more success with tight ends than him. I just really liked him.
“I was out on the road. You know guys know where I was — they were tagging the plane or whatever you call that. I did not, the poor guy at Maryland, I did not interview him for the job, you know. I felt terrible. I’m sure his coach was running in there going, ‘What’s going on?’ I was up to see a couple of recruits and then I flew down and Coach Turner was in Miami recruiting, and I hired him that day. I said, ‘Well, we’ll just come down there and pick you up.’”
The Razorbacks have commitments from former North Carolina quarterback Jacolby Criswell, 6-1, 205; Texas A&M-Commerce wide receiver Andrew Armstrong, 6-5, 189; and Florida offensive guard Joshua Braun, 6-6, 335. Criswell played high school football at Morrilton. With those three pledges, what is still needed from the portal?
“Well, I think we need to add some receivers,” Pittman said. “I think where we are tight end wise, we may need to add a tight end. We’re still looking for a premier pass rusher possibly. That would be my least concern right there, right now. I believe we need some veteran linebackers and certainly we need some more players in the secondary.
“Again, you asked a question, I answered it. That’s not to say that we don’t have good players on our team. I explained it to our team that way, as well. As we continue to go, it’s not necessarily looking for, it’s not a guy that has to come in and start. But we learned a lesson last year at a lot of positions, that you have to improve your talent because of injury. We got in a little bit of a problem because of that last year at times.”
With NIL becoming a hot topic in recruiting Pittman was asked if the University of Arkansas has the resources to stay competitive in this day and age?
“But yes, we have resources here,” Pittman said. “There’s certainly universities out there that have a lot more than we do, some that have a lot less. But we do have the resources. I still don’t believe in buying players. I believe in somebody that wants to come to the university and then you talk about what they might be able to do in their name, image and likeness program. The way of football going right now is disturbing a little bit.”
Arkansas will face Kansas in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28, with kickoff set for 4:30 p.m. and televised on ESPN.