Pittmann gets 7 to ink with Hogs
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.”
“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
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.