Pittmann gets 7 to ink with Hogs

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­backs Re­port

FAYET­TEVILLE Arkansas hired just 10 days be­fore Wed­nes­day’s start of the De­cem­ber early sign­ing pe­riod, coach Sam Pittman and his still un­der as­sem­bly Ra­zor­backs foot­ball staff signed seven in­com­ing fresh­men Wed­nes­day with another an­nounced he’ll sign to­day.

The seven signed in­clude three from Arkansas: Jashaud Ste­wart, line­backer 6-2,

223, Jones­boro; Blayne Toll, de­fen­sive line­man, 6-5, 244, Hazen; and Ca­trell Wal­lace, line­backer, 6-5, 210, Bryant.

From sur­round­ing states the Ra­zor­backs signed line­backer Kelin Bur­rle, 6-0, 205, Har­vey, Louisiana; of­fen­sive line­man Ray Curry, Mem­phis White Sta­tion; run­ning back Do­minique John­son, 6-1, 220, Crowley, Texas; and de­fen­sive back Myles Slusher,

6-0, 181, Bro­ken Ar­row, Ok­la­homa.

John­son and Curry orig­i­nally were com­mit­ted to Mis­souri but flipped to Arkansas with Barry Odom, fired as Mis­souri’s head coach on Nov. 30, last week be­come Arkansas’ de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, and Mis­souri of­fen­sive line coach Brad Davis last week be­came Arkansas’ of­fen­sive line coach.

Also Sam Carter, an an­a­lyst for Odom last year, joins Odom’s Arkansas staff as cor­ner­backs coach, while Rion Rhoades, the head coach at Hutchin­son (Kansas) Com­mu­nity Col­lege

and a Hutchin­son line­backer when Pittman head coached Hutchin­son, is be­com­ing Arkansas’ lineback­ers coach.

Slusher, rated a 4-star by Ri­vals, 247 Sports and ESPN, was headed to the Univer­sity of Ore­gon but flipped late Tues­day night call­ing Pittman to say he’ll play closer to home com­ing to Arkansas.

Bur­rle, from the same near New Or­leans Har­vey, Louisiana, home­town of grad­u­at­ing Ra­zor­backs ALL-SEC line­backer De’jon “Scoota” Har­ris, had been of­fered by the pre­vi­ous Arkansas staff un­der Chad Mor­ris, but weighed in­ter­est from Ken­tucky, LSU, Ten­nessee, Texas A&M and West Vir­ginia be­fore telling Pittman he would sign with Arkansas.

Darin Turner, a re­ceiverde­fen­sive back from Mem­phis ini­tially com­mit­ted to Arkansas then de-com­mit­ting af­ter Mor­ris was fired Nov. 10, has said he will sign with Arkansas to­day.

Pittman can­not pub­licly dis­cuss Turner un­til his let­ter of in­tent is signed.

Pittman started with with his in­state trio in his re­cruit­ing press con­fer­ence dis­cus­sion with me­dia Wed­nes­day after­noon.

“Those three guys were all com­mit­ted to Arkansas when we ar­rived here,” Pittman said. “We were very ex­cited to keep them in our pro­gram and very grate­ful for their

loy­alty to the Univer­sity of Arkansas.”

Most sign the bulk of their re­cruit­ing classes in De­cem­ber, so Pittman has al­ready worked hard on play­ing catchup for what used to be the tra­di­tional one and only sign­ing pe­riod in Fe­bru­ary.

“The great­est thing about it is at least 10 guys com­mit­ted to a visit when the first week­end in Jan­uary is avail­able and we have ob­vi­ously a lot of schol­ar­ships left to work with in the sec­ond sign­ing date,” Pittman said. “Ob­vi­ously we knew it was go­ing to be hard, dif­fi­cult, to sign a num­ber of play­ers but we wanted to sign ones that fit into our pro­gram and we cer­tainly did that.”

Ste­wart’s sign­ing be­comes his­toric as Pittman got in a plane af­ter his Dec. 9 after­noon in­tro­duc­tory press con­fer­ence to see Ste­wart that night.

“Jashaud Ste­wart was the first guy as a head coach at Arkansas that I was able to see,” Pittman said. “The thing I like about him is he’s re­lent­less in his ef­fort, the way he plays the game. I had no idea that he’s re­ally as big as what he was. I had watched his tape. Ob­vi­ously I didn’t know him well.

But I knew he loved the Ra­zor­backs. So af­ter the PC last Mon­day, that even­ing we flew out there. He was the first guy I was able to see. And what a won­der­ful fam­ily and what a won­der­ful kid. Ob­vi­ously we’re ex­cited about him.”

He sec­onded the mo­tion of en­thu­si­asm for Wal­lace. sought by Ole Miss, Mis­souri and Ne­braska among oth­ers.

“Was the sec­ond guy that I saw as a head coach at Arkansas,” Pittman said of Wal­lace. “They have a great fam­ily, won­der­ful home and he loves the Ra­zor­backs. This guy right here is a re­ally good foot­ball player. I think he can play de­fen­sive end, stand up as what you might call a Jack line­backer or weak­side backer. I think you can stand him up in a three-down front. I think you can put him down on the line in a four-man front. But we’re re­ally ex­cited about him and his abil­ity to run with his length. I’m not pos­i­tive where we will play him, but I am pos­i­tive that we’re ex­cited he’s on our foot­ball team.

Fi­nally he took his Toll plus some good bar­be­cue,

“Went to see him on Tues­day of last week,” Pittman said. “They had some of the best bar­be­cue pos­si­ble in Arkansas at their house. The par­ents are un­be­liev­able. Just very, very fine folks. He’s an early out (a De­cem­ber high school grad­u­ate. He’ll be here in Jan­uary. We’re look­ing at him at sev­eral po­si­tions on the D-line. He can run. He loves the Ra­zor­backs and his par­ents love the Ra­zor­backs.”

Bur­rle also is a De­cem­ber grad­u­ate set to en­roll at the UA in Jan­uary.

“When coach Odom got here we sat down and watched the tape on him and we liked a lot of things that he did,” Pittman said. “We think that he can play a Will line­backer, pos­si­bly a nickel/sam - maybe even a strong safety be­cause he has good speed and we are very, very ex­cited that we were able to get him.”

Slusher’s de­ci­sion proved the most late-night dra­matic and goes back to the Ok­la­homa roots of Pittman, a na­tive of Grove who had sought Bro­ken Ar­row’s Slusher for Ge­or­gia when Pittman was a Ge­or­gia as­sis­tant to Kirby Smart.

“Myles Slusher com­mit­ted to us last night at about a quar­ter till mid­night,” Pittman said. “His de­ci­sion was weigh­ing on him. His par­ents came in here and

him­self this week­end. I had been re­cruit­ing Myles when I was at the U of Ge­or­gia. There’s a lot of ex­cite­ment about him. He has speed. He was a good get for us.”

Arkansas’ new Mis­souri con­nec­tions, es­pe­cially line coach Brad Davis with Curry, ob­vi­ously helped sway Curry and John­son.

“When coach Davis came over he cer­tainly went af­ter him (Curry),” Pittman said. “He’s got ev­ery­thing that we want. He has size. He has good feet. He has weight. We just thought he would fit into what an Arkansas of­fen­sive line­man should be. Just very ex­cited about him.”

And John­son?

“He was another one that had been in­volved with Mis­souri,” Pittman said. “We felt like we needed a big, phys­i­cal back. So we went af­ter him, and he was ec­static to be a part of the U of Arkansas. He com­mit­ted to us over the last day or two.”

Pittman was asked if he’s re­cruit­ing for im­me­di­ate or more with the no­tion of red­shirt­ing and de­vel­op­ing for sea­sons down the road.

“Well, I want to get the best play­ers in Amer­ica be­cause as y’all know, I truly be­lieve that Arkansas is the best place in Amer­ica” Pittman said. “I be­lieve that. So this next go-around, there may be some guys that we’re go­ing, ‘Hey, this guy’s a lit­tle light but has got great feet,’ or we may go that way a lit­tle bit more, we might not, but we’re ba­si­cally try­ing to re­cruit guys that we think can come in here and chal­lenge for a po­si­tion early in

their ca­reer.”

Pittman was asked about se­nior-to-be re­ceiver Jor­dan Jones of Smack­over’s post on Twit­ter that he in­tends to trans­fer,

“I re­ally don’t want to com­ment on that,” Pittman said. “I had vis­ited with him, but all I’ll say is we want play­ers that want to be at the Univer­sity of Arkansas.”

Jones missed the en­tire 2019 season be­cause of a se­vere high an­kle sprain in pre­sea­son af­ter catch­ing 21 passes for 401 yards and three touch­downs un­der

Bret Bielema in 2017 and in 2018 caught 17 passes for

191 yards and a touch­down un­der Mor­ris and re­turn­ing re­ceivers coach Justin Stepp.

Cur­rently Pittman, al­lowed a max­i­mum 10 full-time on the field as­sis­tants by NCAA rules, has Davis, Stepp, Odom of­fi­cially on staff, with Rhoades and Carter al­ready on hand and ex­pected of­fi­cially to be an­nounced any­time.

That leaves five open­ings in­clud­ing of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“I would an­tic­i­pate that we would get com­pleted, I don’t know, some­time around Mon­day or Tues­day of next week,” Pittman said. “How­ever, we may be look­ing at some guys that are cur­rently in a bowl sit­u­a­tion, and so we may have to wait un­til their games are com­pleted to hire them.”

Pittman said when his 10-mem­ber staff is as­sem­bled that all will have a por­tion of Arkansas among their as­signed re­cruit­ing ter­ri­to­ries.

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