Ask Mike: Football Recruiting Issues, CFB 25 Discussion, & What’s Up With Lucky #22?

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-07-08 18:27 PM

Q. Our first question is from mousetown who wants to know: What’s going on with in-state football recruiting? Pitt and his staff are doing a good job outside the state. Some are saying the constant complaining from fans like me is sending our best talent out of state? Is it really my fault?

A. I do think the constant bashing of Sam Pittman on the Internet and predictions that he will be gone by Halloween is having an effect. But there are other factors. NIL money, for one. Also Arkansas’ four-win season in 2023. However I will point out what I mentioned last week. Not one of these Arkansas kids going out of state in the 2025 class will have one thing to do with the 2024 season and honestly not a lot to do with 2025. They will be freshmen next year. In most recruiting classes it’s a year two before even really good players start to have an impact.

Let’s go back to 2007. Gus Malzahn left amid controversy along with Mitch Mustain and Damien Williams. The top three players in the state went elsewhere. When players in the 07 class were freshmen in 08, yes it was a tough season. The team went 5-7. But what happened in 09, 2010 and 2011? Behind a couple of quarterbacks named Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson with Bobby Petrino running the offense Arkansas won 29 games in those three seasons. One of the best three year stretch of wins in the history of the school.

What’s important right now is the 2024 season. The recruiting everybody should be talking about is the portal class of 2024. Those guys came in immediately eligible and have gone though spring football with Petrino running the offense. That’s what matters right now. However negativity sells so this summer, in the talking season, that’s what we get.

The only thing I’m focused on is what happens this fall. We’re about seven weeks away.

Q. HL McCamish says: Okay we lost a really good athlete out of Little Rock. Apparently he likes OU better. But Pittman went into Georgia and took one of that state’s top players away from Georgia. It works both ways.

A. That’s true. The complainers will say that Georgia could afford to lose one player to Arkansas. The ‘Dogs recruiting is near the top in the nation whereas Arkansas is just outside the top 25. But I say, if you lose top in-state players, go out of state and get players who are even better. Arkansas has a long history of winning with out of state players who became fan favorites. How about Lloyd Phillips? Bill Montgomery? Joe Ferguson? Anthony Lucas? Felix Jones? Alex Collins? Frank Ragnow? Knile Davis? The list goes on and on. The fact is there are always more out of state players on the roster than in-state. It’s been that way as long as I’ve covered this team.

Q.Hawg in Texas asks: With Texas and Oklahoma now in the SEC do you see those schools coming in and taking some of the the top players in Arkansas?

A. Texas might go after a high four-star or five-star from Arkansas but I don’t see them recruiting Arkansas much. OU is a different story. They’ve already had some success in Arkansas in this recruiting class. I think they will continue to go after Arkansas kids.

Somebody I trust thinks that Pittman really needs a former Razorback on his staff to recruit. A former pro athlete similar to what Ronnie Brewer is doing with the basketball program.

Q. WVHogfan asks: Since Ja’Quinden Jackson is a former quarterback, do you think we will see a return of the hogwild or wildcat formation? If so, it would be great if he has the success Darren McFadden had.

A. He said something about that when he first got on campus but if there are any plans to do that we didn’t see it in the spring. If Petrino uses him in any other role it will be as a receiver. We did see that. Personally I want to see what he can do at running back. I think he will have a major impact on the offense.

Q. Eddylynn says: You’ve always had a thing about # 22. I remember in junior high when you wore that number even though you weren’t a running back or a defensive back. Ja’ Quinden Jackson is number 22. It that why you’re so high on him?

A. I’m high on him because of what I saw this past spring in practices, in scrimmages and in the spring game. But yes, it doesn’t hurt that he wears that number. My first football hero wore number 22. I was in the 4th grade and he beat Muleshoe with a touchdown with 43 seconds left in the game. Got knocked out doing it.

There there was Bullet Bob Hayes. The fastest player in a football uniform I’d ever seen. There’s a bunch of number 22 Razorbacks. Tony Bua and Peyton Hillis come to mind. I think it’s a lucky number. Watch out for Ja’Quinden Jackson this fall.

Q. Lanny asks: With SEC Media Days coming up what kind of reception to you think Pittman will get from the conference media? He’s always been pretty popular at this thing but will that change with him on the hot seat?

A. Good question but it’s anybody’s guess. He’s never been on the hot seat going into Media Days. I’m sure he’ll get asked about it. It will be interesting to see his response.

Q. sgiles asks: With football Media Days moving to Dallas this year do you think it will be over run with Texas media types? If so, heaven help us. The Texas media stinks. A bunch of appointed geniuses. I know. I live here.

A. Another good question and again I’m not sure. The Alabama media has been fairly annoying at SEC Media Days in Birmingham. If the Texas media is worse I’m glad I won’t be there. Good luck Courtney.

Q. Hogdogger wants to know: What is up with NCAA plan to stop scholarships for walk-ons to football teams. Is that right or am I confused?

A. That is still speculation. The idea is, if schools start paying every scholarship athlete out of its athletic department budget to solve this issue of the open buying or players they will need to reduce expenses. While walk-ons don’t get scholarship benefits it still costs money to suit them up. Reducing the number of players on the roster from over 100 to 85 would save money. Personally I think it’s a really bad idea.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: What news is coming out of the summer basketball practices? Is there any media access or just the video clips we’ve seen a few of?

A. So far there has been no media access. From the videos we see lots of dunks and assists and some three point shooting. Clearly it’s edited so there’s no way to get a true look at what they’re doing. There were a couple of selected sound byes with Cal and assistant coach basically telling the players to work harder.

Given the quality of the recruits Cal has brought in, there are a lot of Hog fans who can’t wait for the season to start.

Q. I read about the three players Calipari recently added to the roster. Scholarships 10, 11 and 12. The story called them walk-ons but they are on scholarship and look like good players. Maybe not 4 or 5 stars but not walk-ons. What’s up with that?

A. It’s complicated. I do agree that these three appear to be more than typical walk-ons. The issue is, that’s how Cal referred to them when he originally discussed offering 9 or 10 scholarships. Those 9 or 10 will be his basic playing rotation. The others would have to work into that rotation but again, it looks like to me they are better than typical walk-on type players.

Q. KYHOG says: Arkansas has a big group of athletes going to the Olympics. My wife wants to know which one has the best chance of winning a gold medal.

A. Courtney: Mike deferred to me on this answer and I asked our Olympic expert Alyssa Orange who will be in Paris this summer covering the games.

As far as Hogs who have a good chance of winning, keep an eye out for some of members of Team Jamaica. Ackera Nugent in the 100m hurdles, Nickisha Pryce in the 400m and jumpers Romaine Beckford, Wayne Pinnock, Carey McLeod and Jaydon Hibbert all have chances to get the gold.

Former Hog Anna Hopkins won gold in Tokyo with UK’s 4×100 medley relay team and has a chance to win it again.

As far as Team USA, the gymnastics team is the favorite to win and upcoming freshman Jocelyn Roberson is competing with them as an alternate.

Also, those are chances for gold, but plenty of Hogs have chances to medal at the Olympics this summer!

Q. Hawgredneck says: It looks like Arkansas players are tearing it up in the Cape this summer. Aloy is leading the league in homers and Helfrick is suddenly bashing the ball too. Looks like you get them away from the Hill and they cut loose. Not a good look for our hitting coach:

Some fans are coming to that conclusion there could be a lot of factors other than getting away from Thompson for the summer. The bottom line, DVH clearly likes Thompson and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. He’s changing the hitting philosophy. More singles and doubles. Better speed on the bases and better base running. It’ll be next season before we see if that pays off.

Q. Finally… RazorAlex88 with a question from last week: Countdown to CFB25! Courtney, what features are you excited most about? I can’t wait to see the traditions and team entrances! Gotta go see the Razorbacks going through the A! I’m pretty excited to see the other SEC entrances too!

A. Courtney is our video game expert. So take it away, girl.

Courtney: Hey everybody, I’m so excited for the release of EA Sports College Football 25. I had a chance to watch gameplay today and the level of detail blew me away. The fact that stadiums that are tough to play in will affect your gameplay by scrambling routes, changing play graphics, etc. is so cool to me. Not to mention, the “wear-and-tear” aspect of your players too. If a player gets hit in a certain area, it will affect that player’s gameplay moving forward in the game, so let’s say the quarterback gets hit in his throwing arm that will affect his accuracy throughout the game. I also, like you, am very excited to see the traditions of college football be placed throughout the game. That’s why this game was always superior to Madden in my opinion and it’s so exciting to see it come back!

(Last updated: 2024-07-08 18:27 PM)