What gives? Arkansas fails to offer top in-state prospect...who's headed to Alabama
The pressure is on Bret Bielema to perform in Fayetteville.
The gregarious Arkansas head coach is beloved by the media. He’s also excellent whenever on television in an analyst role, and is truly well-liked by both his players and potential recruits.
This ad was in this mornings sports section of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. pic.twitter.com/dJqmv4sY6v
— WPS (@FeralHogg) January 22, 2017
With that said, the results on the field are lacking. In four years, Arkansas is 25-26 under Bielema’s guidance. This includes a 10-22 conference record. At some point, the administration needs to determine whether Bielema is truly the man for the job going forward.
Recruiting seems like the way to change the Razorbacks’ fortunes. However, there are some major obstacles facing the program.
For one, Arkansas has to contend with the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss within its division. Not only are all five programs exceptional at signing top-talent, but each has sustained better success on the field when compared to Arkansas in recent years.
Secondly, the talent pool from which to pull from isn’t great. Arkansas is a relatively small state. As such, it’s imperative for Bielema to keep every top prospect home. He’s usually done a good job in this capacity.
However, it hasn’t always gone to plan. In 2014, Arkansas lost defensive tackle Josh Frazier to Alabama. The following year, stud RB Damarea Crockett signed with Missouri. In this cycle, 4-star DT Akial Byers — hailing from Fayetteville High School — is currently committed to Alabama.
Had opportunity to meet the Legend today on our FHS campus. pic.twitter.com/pCjYZsICw9
— Brad Stamps (@bstamps22) January 23, 2017
It’s no shame in losing out in a recruitment to Nick Saban’s juggernaut of a program. But, Bielema never offered Byers a scholarship — even though Byers’ high school is literally a mile from the college campus.
This isn’t a question of Byers “not being good enough” to play at Arkansas. Aside from his scholarship to Alabama, Byers also accrued offers from the likes of Florida State, Michigan, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, and Ohio State.
There are rumors Byers may not qualify academically for Arkansas. This past March, Byers spoke to Recruiting News Guru — and opened up on his frustrations for not receiving an offer from his hometown team:
“It’s frustrating. I have no clue why they haven’t offered me yet. They want me to feel at home or whatever. I’m from right here in their backyard. When I [left an unofficial visit] they said we’ll see you soon.”
If academics are the problem, Byers in theory would have an issue enrolling in Tuscaloosa. Many schools have ‘silver bullets’ to use — which enable schools to accept a borderline student academically. This good will is usually built up through the football team’s APR score. Arkansas could opt to use one for Byers (again, if he has any issues qualifying).
Then again, there could be more to the story. It just seems peculiar for Arkansas to not offer a top prospect literally in its own backyard — especially when Bielema is on the proverbial hot seat.