Razorbacks go 2 for 5 on National Signing Day

Posted: February 7, 2018 at 12:44 p.m.

Arkansas coach Chad Morris speaks Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, during a press conference to introduce new assistant coaches at the Fred W. Smith Football Center in Fayetteville.

— Arkansas won two and lost three recruiting battles Wednesday, the first day of the late signing period for college football.

Both of the Razorbacks' wins came in New Orleans and both were defensive players. Linebacker Andrew Parker (6-2, 225 pounds) of New Orleans Sophie B. Wright decided to sign with Arkansas after receiving late offers from Texas and Texas A&M following his verbal commitment to the Razorbacks last month.

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Arkansas' 2018 football signing class

"I am happy it is over with," Parker told WholeHogSports. "It has been a tough process. I had to visit with a lot of people, take a look at everybody."

Arkansas also added a letter of intent from safety Joseph Foucha of New Orleans McDonogh 35 High School. Foucha (5-11, 195) had notable offers from Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida State and Michigan.

It is the third consecutive year Arkansas has signed multiple players from the New Orleans area.

Arkansas missed on three ESPN three-star defensive recruits Wednesday when linebacker Jaylen Moody signed with Alabama, defensive end Caleb Okechukwu signed with Syracuse and linebacker/safety Aaron Brule signed with Mississippi State. All three players signed with programs much closer to their hometowns. Moody is from Conway, S.C., Okechukwu from Washington and Brule attended Rummel High School in Metairie, La., where Arkansas had signed four players since 2014.

Arkansas signed eight players Wednesday, bringing its total number of 2018 signees to 16 when the early signing period is factored. Twelve of the signees committed to the Razorbacks after Chad Morris replaced Bret Bielema as the team's head coach in December.

In addition to the two signees from New Orleans, Arkansas' signees Wednesday included six players who had previously committed: Jonesboro offensive lineman Noah Gatlin (6-7, 300); Owasso, Okla., defensive end Courtre Alexander (6-4, 235); Dallas Highland Park quarterback John Stephen Jones (5-10, 185); Trussville (Hewitt-Trussville), Ala., safety Myles Mason (6-2, 196); Memphis (Christian Brothers) offensive lineman Ryan Winkel (6-6, 280); and Independence Community College running back Rakeem Boyd (5-11, 198), a Houston native who began his career at Texas A&M.

Arkansas' class is ranked last among teams in the Southeastern Conference and outside the top 50 nationally, according to ESPN, rankings that can be attributed somewhat to a relatively low number of signees.

But Arkansas also failed to land many highly-rated recruits. Greenwood quarterback Connor Noland, who signed in December, is the Razorbacks' only signee ranked among ESPN's top 300 prospects. That is tied with Kentucky for 12th in the SEC and ahead of only Missouri, which failed to sign any ESPN300 recruits.

Noland, Mason and Boyd are Arkansas' highest-rated recruits, according to ESPN, all with four-star rankings.

Following the early signing period in December, Morris said he doesn't recruit players based on their rankings.

"I want someone that is excited, that will come in and make a difference and to change the dynamics of a program," he said.

The Razorbacks' class could grow Friday when College of the Canyons defensive end Dorian Gerald decides between Arkansas, Texas A&M, Florida and Louisville. Gerald (6-3, 265) is ESPN's top-rated defensive end in junior college.