National analyst: Hogs make up ground too late

Posted: February 8, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Highland Park quarterback John Stephen Jones (9) looks to pass against Temple during the first half of UIL Class 5A Division I state championship football game, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. Jones is the grandson of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

While Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Chad Morris' first recruiting class won't rank high nationally, CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said the Hogs did sign a good amount of nice prospects in their 2018 class.

A late start, the very first early signing period and low numbers contributed to the class not being ranked high.

The Hogs had 11 commitments when he took over the program Dec. 6, but only four of the 11 ended up signing with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Rivals ranked the Hogs class at No. 79, while 247 Sports ranked it at No. 55. The Razorbacks failed to make the cut in ESPN's top 50 class, while Lemming didn't have Arkansas in his top 25.

Morris and his staff signed eight on Wednesday in addition to the eight previously signed in December. Lemming said some schools were better equipped to handle a coaching change with minimal impact on a recruiting class. Florida State finished No. 11 nationally in ESPN's rankings and is the highest ranked school that had a coaching change.

"Florida State was already having a great year, and some of those schools rebounded well and it was kind of a positive transition, but with Arkansas it wasn't," Lemming said. "Then when you get a new coach, and you really can't recruit until late January, it's almost impossible to have a great year. You have a short period in December and then you have the dead period and start back up in mid-January and you have three weeks to recruit."

Lemming rates Arkansas signee safety Myles Mason a 4-star plus prospect.

Mason, 6-2, 205 pounds, 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Hewitt-Trussville High School in Alabama signed Wednesday over scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Tennessee and others.

"He's one of the better all-around athletes, not only in the Birmingham area, but the whole state of Alabama," Lemming said. "He's a big time player."

Lemming rated Rakeem Boyd a 4-star prospect coming out of Houston Stratford in 2016 when the running back signed with Texas A&M. He left the Aggies last summer after his redshirt freshman year to enroll at Independence (Kan.) Community College.

Boyd, 6-0, 207, signed with the Hogs over scholarship offers from Arizona and Colorado.

"He was one of the best ball players in the Houston area," Lemming said. "He could be one of the big surprises of the class. He should be able to compete right away for a starting job."

Jonesboro offensive tackle Noah Gatlin, 6-7, 300, 5.18, chose the Hogs over offers which included Arizona State, Texas Tech, Indiana and others. Lemming rates him a 3-star prospect with 4-star potential.

"If he had played in Little Rock he would've been more heavily recruited," Lemming said. "He was kind of overlooked in my opinion. He's better than what most people have him rated."

Lemming is high on safety Joseph Foucha, whom he rates a 4-star recruit.

"He should end up at free safety because he's really aggressive and has great range, hard hitter and most of of all great production," Lemming said.

Foucha, 5-11, 185, of New Orleans McDonogh 35 had 20-plus scholarship offers from schools like Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida State, Michigan, Baylor and others.

Lemming was the only national analyst to rate quarterback John Stephen Jones, 5-10 1/2, 185, 4.6 of Dallas Highland Park above a 3-star status. He rated Jones a 3-star plus prospect.

"Small, but very talented quarterback," said Lemming, who's starting his 40th year of covering the national scene. "He's a Doug Flutie type of signal-caller. Good arm, exceptional football savvy. He's a leader both on and off the field. He would be a four-star player if he was a couple of inches taller."

Lemming noticed how Morris and his staff have been working hard on the 2019 and 2020 classes since being in Fayetteville.

"I think they did well just keeping their heads above water in this class," Lemming said. "What it looks like they were doing a lot of 2019 recruiting. I think that bodes well for the future."

"Everything worked against Arkansas this year because 80 percent of the talent pool signed in December and that means everyone is coming after the guys that are left."

Sports on 02/08/2018