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Signing Class Report Card: Arkansas

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Biggest Needs: Where would you like to start? Arkansas loses their top passer, their two top rushers and two top wide receivers. Record-setting quarterback Tyler Wilson and his partner in crime Cobi Hamilton are gone. The Hogs also lost three running backs in Dennis Johnson, Knile Davis and Ronnie Wingo, as well as their second leading receiver in tight end Chris Gragg. There are immediate needs across the board on offense everywhere except offensive line, but none of them are bigger than the need for a big-time running back.

Three of the Hogs’ top four tacklers are gone. Tenarius Wright, Terrell Williams, Alonzo Highsmith and Ross Rasner all graduated. However, the biggest glaring need still remains in the secondary. This group finished last in the SEC and 116th in the country, and the best player in the secondary, Rasner, is now gone. They were lost from the get-go and never found any way to progressively improve throughout the season. The Hogs have depth at linebacker, but the secondary needs immediate attention.

Needs Met: The biggest need on the board was filled with arguably the best running back in Florida. Alex Collins will remind you somewhat of Trent Richardson and Todd Gurley, with his dreadlocks and physical running style. If you haven’t checked out his highlight film, you must.  He’ll make a splash alongside Jonathan Williams starting next year. Bret Bielema also signed the top quarterback from Arkansas in Fayetteville’s Austin Allen. Allen enters the program with the top tight end in the state, Hunter Henry. The combination of Collins, Allen and Henry was a big lick for Bielema and his staff just two months on the job. Landing offensive guard Denver Kirkland from South Florida was just icing on the cake.

The Hogs are also getting an impact corner, safety and linebacker in JUCO transfers Carroll Washington, Tiquention Coleman and Myke Tavarres. All three are ready to play right away and provide impact and depth at each position. All eyes are on the secondary in the near future, as the front seven should be okay.

Biggest Get: Alex Collins will give Arkansas a shot in the arm of instantaneous offense. When a player stands out in South Florida, you know he’s good. And Bielema going down and taking him out of Miami’s backyard is remarkable. Hats off to you, Bret.

Biggest Miss: While Collins was the biggest get, fellow in-state running back and Alabama signee Altee Tenpenny was the biggest miss. Any time coaches let recruits escape the state to another team within your own conference is a big deal. This probably would have been different if Bielema had more time to recruit.

Final Evaluation: The amount of work Bret Bielema did in such a short amount of time should give Hogs fans peace of mind. Landing two of the top players from South Florida in Collins and Kirkland was just showing out. In all, Bielema signed 23 players and three from the state of Texas. Look for the Hogs to establish a presence in Texas in the near future and further establish one in South Florida. However, Bielema will have to get to work on the defensive line in 2014.

Final Grade: B

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Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports





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