National Signing Day is a few weeks away, and the Arkansas Razorbacks have a wish list of candidates that will could help return the Hogs to their winning ways.
Head coach Bret Bielema got a bit of good news when 4-star tight end Hunter Henry of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark. reaffirmed his commitment to play for the Hogs after an official visit on Monday.
A recruit of Henry’s caliber will help fill the void left by Chris Gragg’s graduation and his commitment to the Hogs is hopefully a sign of good things to come.
Now that Bielema can officially scratch Henry off his wish list, here are a few more candidates that could help bring Bielema’s vision for the program to fruition.
4. Stacy Coley, WR
Stacy Coley is a wide receiver from Oakland Park, Fla. He is a 4-star recruit and a solid target to move the role left by departing senior Cobi Hamilton’s.
Coley visited Miami officially in December. It is possible he had contact with now former Arkansas wide receivers coach George McDonald while McDonald was still at Miami. McDonald’s departure could pose as a problem in obtaining Coley’s signature.
Fortunately Bielema has enlisted a top recruiter in new receiver coach Michael Smith.
Hopefully Smith will be able to land Coley and shore up the Hogs’ passing attack in 2013.
3. Mackensie Alexander, CB
The Razorbacks have a young group of cornerbacks heading into next season. Likely starters Tevin Mitchel and Davyon McKinney will be a junior and a sophomore respectively, and there will be plenty of opportunity for a 4-star recruit like Mackensie Alexander to break into the first team.
The Hogs are looking to correct their defensive failures from the 2012 season, mainly their inability to stop the pass. Landing a recruit like Alexander would help make their young group of cornerbacks that much stronger.
2. Denver Kirkland, OG
No matter who the quarterback is next season—be it Brandon Allen or Brandon Mitchell—the Razorbacks’ offensive line needs to make an effort to keep him from getting knocked to the ground every play, which was the case with Tyler Wilson this year.
The Razorbacks have already gotten a commitment from 3-star recruit Reeve Koehler. Koehler joins Mitch Smothers, the other offensive guard on the Hogs’ roster.
One of the failures of Bobby Petrino before his departure from Arkansas was that he did not recruit enough quality players to account for injury. The 2012 season was plagued with players taking on new roles and learning or, in the case of Brandon Mitchell in the Alabama game, relearning positions.
Bielema will need more than two offensive guards on the roster in case the inevitable injury happens. Denver Kirkland is a 4-star recruit out of Florida that could fill in if needed or, if he can protect the quarterback, start.
1. Alex Collins, RB
Alex Collins, a running back out of Florida, was one of Bielema’s primary targets while he was at Wisconsin. Former receivers coach George McDonald also met with Collins, and it was expected that McDonald would be a key factor towards landing Collins’ signature.
Arkansas lost running backs Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis this season. Jonathan Williams is poised to be a breakout star, but there is always room for a quality running back on an SEC team’s roster.
Collins would be a 5-star recruit and has the potential and the opportunity to make an impact for the Razorbacks in 2013. Bielema has worked hard his first several weeks as head coach at Arkansas to lay the foundation for the Razorbacks to be an SEC powerhouse. A 5-star running back could be the piece that ties all of Bielema’s effort together.