FAYETTEVILLE — On Wednesday, Arkansas’ recruiting went as expected until former Pitt defensive end John Morgan III moved up his timeline and signed with the Razorbacks.
Morgan, 6-2, 265, is the fourth recruit, first on defense, from the transfer portal to sign with the Hogs. Sam Pittman admitted it was great, unexpected news they got Morgan when they did.
“I was surprised,” Pittman said. “Deke (Adams) brought the phone in to me today. Now that the phones are so fancy that you’ve got like three faces on there — that’s usually a good thing, by the way. If mom, dad and the kid’s on there, something good’s going to happen.
“What’s bad is when you don’t have a FaceTime, you’ve been FaceTiming the guy all the time and he calls you. That’s not good on signing day. You’re getting ready to get one of those ‘see you laters.’ But this one was a good one and really, really honored that he decided to choose us. He’s a really good kid.”
Morgan had told this reporter he planned to make his decision after the national championship game. He had visited Missouri prior to Arkansas and talked about maybe visiting Tennessee or Colorado. In addition to Adams, the defensive line coach, new defensive coordinator Travis Williams played a role in landing him.
“You’re exactly right,” Pittman said. “Not always are y’all right, by the way, but you’re right on that one. You know I’m teasing. Not really, but kinda.
“We flew over there. Deke had contacted him. Obviously I liked his tape and Deke had set it up and we flew over there and spoke with him. We were trying to get on the back half of another university’s official visit (Missouri) and we did. When he got here, I think he really liked it. When he landed, I had not hired a defensive coordinator yet and I kept telling him in the home on Monday of that week, ‘Hey, I’ll have a guy by the time you get there’ and I hadn’t.
“So we did hire Travis. Travis, once we did, he got on the phone with him and started talking to him. Then we flew Travis in, so he was able to sit and talk to him on Sunday of the visit. So that certainly helped us. Travis had a big part to do with it I think. I think Deke Adams, which he’s been kind of a bulldog in recruiting. He’s been out there and getting some really fine players in that room. But that’s kind of how it happened. Yes, Coach Williams had a lot to do with that, as well. Deke obviously did the grunt work on it and then myself and T-Will tried to close it out.”
At Pitt, Morgan had 72 tackles, 49 solo, 23 for loss, 14.5 sacks, two pass breakups and three forced fumbles in his career. He will have one season of eligibility at Arkansas. He talked about why he chose the Razorbacks over offers from nine other schools including many in the SEC.
“Just because it’s the SEC,” Morgan said. “This is big-boy football. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m a big-time player and I want to play in the biggest stages. This gives me an opportunity to do that. You play against Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. The big-time schools 24-7. That’s what I want to do. I want to be that guy.”
Arkansas will face Kansas in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Wednesday with kickoff set for 4:30 p.m. and televised on ESPN.