FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – If it feels like the sky is falling in the world of Arkansas football, well it’s not.
It’s stumbling really hard, but falling would mean no football going forward. Regardless of how many people tell you there’s not going to be enough players to field a team in the near future, that’s not going to happen.
Now, with that being said, the product the college football world sees in Memphis will need a Christmas miracle to qualify as SEC football.
However, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel if you’re one of those people who still put some sort of stock in bowl games. The theft of tight end Jaden Hamm by Kansas over the weekend finally put the Jayhawks on the Razorbacks’ radar.
Perhaps now the staff and rest of the fan base has a reason to pay attention to Kansas and care that apparently they play football in addition to basketball.
As for those who are more concerned about the future of the team as opposed to a scrimmage with a paycheck at the end, things are a bit worrisome.
Starters are leaving, and, more importantly, there are serious cracks showing in the recruiting class just days before the December signing period.
The cracks are highly concerning for two reasons.
The first is that Sam Pittman just went out of his way to go visit every single recruit on a whirlwind plane tour.
Despite this, he lost defensive tackle commit Stephen Johnson to newly minted Auburn coach Hugh Freeze and 4-star wide receiver Micah Tease looks like he got an offer he couldn’t refuse down at Texas A&M..
The second reason for concern is the implosion of a tight ends group that was the anchor of this recruiting class.
Obviously, the aforementioned departure of Hamm for Kansas is reason for unease, but at least it can be reasoned as just a kid looking to stay in his home state to help lift the local program out of obscurity.
Arkansas fans can relate to this.
It’s especially easy to rationalize when considering he just lost the coach who recruited him and that Hamm would be THE superstar tight end in the Jayhawks’ class as opposed to a third spoke on a star-filled tight end wheel at Arkansas.
That brings us to Luke Hasz.
The Bixby, Oklahoma star has become a primary target of Nick Saban after “The Great One” smelled blood in the water when word leaked out that Dowell Loggains was looking to go elsewhere several days before his eventual departure.
Judging by the loud chatter out of Tuscaloosa, there is belief across the state of Alabama that Hasz will become the cherry on top of the 2023 Crimson Tide recruiting class.
Right now Arkansas has the edge by way of bringing along Luke’s brother, Dylan, at safety. However, if an offer to both brothers drifts out of Alabama’s athletic offices in the next two days, it will be cause for concern.
The most unsettling announcement is that Ashdown’s Shemar Easter has decided to wait on his decision until the February signing day while he looks into the South Carolina football program.
On the surface, it makes a little sense that Easter might want to wait to see how he meshes with a new tight ends coach he has no relationship with before deciding his future.
The problem with this line of thought is that recently named tight ends coach Morgan Turner should already have a relationship with Easter. He was, after all, assigned Arkansas as part of his territory at Stanford and the the top recruit in Arkansas is a high 4-star tight end.
If he wasn’t doing everything he could to establish a relationship, that should be troubling. If he has a relationship and Easter’s immediate reaction was to plan a plane ride to Columbia, South Carolina, that should be troubling also.
Yet, it’s entirely possible that Turner isn’t the issue.
Easter may just want to see what state the program is in before accidentally thrusting himself into a mess he doesn’t want to deal with if things continue to head south.
Either way, Easter’s hesitancy is a major red flag that something is off in some way or another. It’s a miserable experience for high school athletes in Arkansas to go to another Power Five school.
It was awful to watch what kids experienced in making the best decision for themselves and their futures before the birth of Arkansas Twitter. Now the open hate and borderline criminal abuse some of these kids take online is crushing, and that’s in addition to how they are treated in real life.
This is a fan base that was once called out for its abusive nature in an NFL press conference by former starting quarterback Brandon Allen.
That’s a guy who actually signed and turned into a super star.
No local high school athlete makes the decision to go somewhere else lightly, especially one who is already committed.
At least house phones and phone books are no longer a thing and social media can be turned off for a bit, but it’s still a rough ordeal to experience until that high school student can get away to college.
While the sky isn’t falling, there are numerous indications that the house is.
David Bazzel reported on his morning show in Little Rock on 103.7 The Buzz that three donors were approached to give $100,000, $50,000 and $10,000 respectively by a collective associated with the university.
They said no.
Therefore, from the sounds of it, Pittman is going to be trying to put this thing back together with a limited supply of nails.
If that’s the case, it’s going to be difficult to shore this thing up through a transfer portal brimming with 4 and 5-star athletes.
Enjoy basketball and baseball season Arkansas fans. Just don’t look the other way toward football because it’s likely that what you see will be way uglier before it starts looking better.
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