Published February 8, 2012 - 9:28am
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Biggest Needs: After a season where the Razorbacks’ only two losses came to the two teams that played in the national championship game, the future looks bright for Arkansas’ 2012 campaign. Offensively Arkansas returns Tyler Wilson at QB, and Wilson accounted for over 3,600 yards passing and 24 touchdowns. I think the offense gets a huge boost with the return of RB Knile Davis. Davis missed the 2011 campaign with a knee injury, but in 2010 he rushed for over 1,300 yards and 13 TDs. Arkansas losses start at the wide receiver position where they lose three big ones. Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, and Greg Childs all graduate, and they combined for over 2,000 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Up front, the Razorbacks only lose two offensive linemen in Grant Freeman and Grant Cook.
Defensively, Arkansas only loses one defensive lineman, but DE Jake Bequette is a huge loss. Bequette led the team in sacks with a total of 10 and he forced five fumbles. The Razorbacks also lose their best linebacker in Jerry Franklin. Franklin led the team in tackles with 101 total tackles. Arkansas loses a total of 6 defensive backs It will be difficult to replace the production of Safety Tramain Thomas. Thomas was second on the team in tackles with 91, and he led the team in interceptions with five. Jerico Nelson and Greg Gatson are two other DBs that will be tough to find replacements for.
Needs Met: Arkansas filled all of their positions of needs with a warm body, but there are no real ground-breaking players in this class. Up front the Razorbacks signed two offensive linemen in Cordale Boyd and Jeremy Ward, and it is a safe bet that both guys are destined for a redshirt. They signed two RBs and I really like Jonathan Williams who could add quality depth to the running back stable. The Razorbacks spent most of their offensive scholarships on wide receivers since that’s where their biggest losses were. They signed four WRs, including Demetrius Wilson, who is a JUCO guy that could have an immediate impact. However, don’t be surprised to see true freshmen Keon Hatcher or D’Arthur Cowan on the field next year. Both guys are big possession type receivers that Arkansas will need.
Defensively, Arkansas used seven scholarships on defensive linemen. The Razorbacks signed bookend defensive ends from Vigor High School in Alabama. JaMichael Winston and Darius Philon (both from Vigor) are going to be great players, but rumors about Philon’s health will have fans waiting to see if they are true or not. Austin Flynn is a speed rush JUCO defensive linemen that will probably be in the rotation next year. The Razorbacks signed three linebackers, with Otha Peters looking ready to come in and contribute next year. They also signed four defensive backs, and Jared Collins brings a ton of speed that could get him on the field next year.
Biggest Get: Jonathan Williams is a great back out of Texas that will be a quality back-up next year, but I think he could be a starter his second year.
Biggest Miss: Dorial Green-Beckham. It looked as if Arkansas had DGB locked up prior to signing day, but Missouri kept the best recruit in the country at home. This loss hurts bad, because the Razorbacks were looking to replace three productive receivers.
Final Evaluation: This class is not bad, but it’s not great either. If the Razorbacks want to finally get over the hump and beat Alabama and LSU on a yearly basis, they are going to have to out-recruit those teams. This recruiting class is not better than Alabama’s or LSU’s, and it’s not even the third-best class in the SEC West.
Final Grade: C+