Arkansas football recruiting 2013, National Signing Day recap: Stability and mayhem

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The past year has been a struggle for Arkansas, but a late addition on the recruiting trail has given the program positive momentum for the first time in a while.

For more on Hogs football, visit Arkansas blog Arkansas Expats, plus SEC blog Team Speed Kills.

The Arkansas program has been in flux ever since the dismissal of Bobby Petrino last April, and fans are hoping the arrival of Bret Bielema as head coach will bring them some badly needed stability. A No. 22 recruiting class, according to 247 Sports' composite ratings, sounds like a great start.

Not surprisingly, the Hogs' 2013 recruiting class is not a vintage effort, but they did manage a huge Signing Day week by stealing four-star guard Denver Kirkland from Florida State and five-star running back Alex Collins, who chose Arkansas over Miami. At least, that's how it seemed at first, before Collins' mother made off with her son's paperwork, preventing him from officially becoming an Arkansas Razorback. He maintains he'll sign Thursday.

With Collins, Kirkland, tight end Hunter Henry, and pro-style quarterback Austin Allen all aboard, Hog fans are hoping that they have the foundation for a great offense on the way. All told, the Razorbacks unofficially have 23 players in their 2013 class, four of whom are already enrolled in classes in Fayetteville. We're still waiting on Collins, obviously.

New head coach Bret Bielema and his staff have closed well, but the Razorbacks are plainly behind the ball in the SEC West when it comes to recruiting. Alabama and LSU are essentially givens to bring in top classes every year, and the rise of Ole Miss and Texas A&M on the recruiting trail in 2013 has put the Hogs even farther behind. The situation is far from ideal, especially considering how close Arkansas was to the top just two seasons ago. It's possible for Bielema and the Hogs to get back to the upper echelon of the SEC, but they will need some luck in order to get there.

Bud Elliott’s grade

B+. Let's be frank. Arkansas is a really tough school at which to win. The state has very little talent (just three four-star players this year). The surroudning states are not at all ripe for the picking. And Texas is now much, much harder to recruit because A&M is in the SEC and TCU and Baylor both have their act together.

Arkansas is coming off a disaster of a season and has a new coaching staff. Given all that, to pull a five-star and four four-stars, and meet needs at offensive line and running back along the way to turning Fayetteville into Madison South, is very impressive and worthy of a B+. Collins is an excellent back and a great kid.

Top three players

Collins

Hunter Henry, four-star tight end

It's like he's been watching some of the best players on his home state's team for the last 3 years because he is an exciting Tight End just like we're getting used to having on the field in Razorback Stadium. Yeah we've known this guy was going to be on the team since July 19th and we're still glad today to say he's on board. I don't know about all of you, but I was watching Bielema's press conference when he was announced as the head hog, but he didn't call me that afternoon to see how I was feeling about him as a head coach. He probably made a few phone calls, but his first call was to Hunter Henry and to tell him about all the Tight Ends he's put in the NFL.

Austin Allen, four-star quarterback

Allen, a 4 star recruit, took over as the Fayetteville quarterback when Brandon left after the 2011 season. He didn’t miss a beat, leading the Bulldogs to back-to-back state titles. As a senior he threw for 3,395 yards, 29 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Allen was nominated the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year to cap off his impressive senior season.

Top three rival classes

Unfortunately for Arkansas, most of their biggest rivals have had a great year on the recruiting trail. Texas A&M and LSU are both bringing in top 10 classes nationally, and the Razorbacks are ranked behind almost every team in the SEC West.

Biggest National Signing Day drama

It wasn't technically on Signing Day, but the buildup to Collins' announcement on Feb. 4 was absolutely massive. Most of the recruiting experts had the race as a dead heat, and no one was able to get a really good read on him until he announced he was committing to Arkansas. That drama, in true Arkansas fashion, continues.

Notes from SB Nation blogs:

Arkansas Expats on the class' other elite offensive talent, Henry:

It's like he's been watching some of the best players on his home state's team for the last three years, because he is an exciting tight end just like we're getting used to having on the field in Razorback Stadium. Yeah we've known this guy was going to be on the team since July 19th, and we're still glad today to say he's on board. I don't know about all of you, but I was watching Bielema's press conference when he was announced as the head Hog, and he didn't call me that afternoon to see how I was feeling about him as a head coach. He probably made a few phone calls, but his first call was to Hunter Henry and to tell him about all the tight ends he's put in the NFL.

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