Take Two: How surprising is Chad Morris' early success at Arkansas?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
It would not be a surprise if Arkansas finishes last in the SEC West this season, but first-year coach Chad Morris is selling a vision in Fayetteville - and people are buying in.
The Razorbacks have been doing tremendously well on the recruiting trail, especially this summer and they have moved to No. 7 in the conference and No. 16 nationally, right behind powerhouse Ohio State. Arkansas’ current class is ranked ahead of South Carolina, Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida and others in the SEC.
What’s been especially surprising is that Morris is known as an offensive-minded coach but it’s on the defense where the Razorbacks have been cleaning up in recent months and Arkansas is getting a ton of out-of-state talent.
Four-star linebacker Zach Zimos is from Texas, four-star defensive ends Collin Clay and Eric Gregory play in Oklahoma and Florida, respectively. Four-star cornerback Adonis Otey is out of Tennessee. Arkansas landed nine commitments in July and already three in August.
Has Morris’ recruiting success been a complete surprise or was this expected since he’s always been known as a good recruiter with tremendous high school ties?
FIRST TAKE: ANDREW HUTCHINSON, HAWGBEAT.COM
“Those who have been following Arkansas' recruiting closely the last few months knew it was only a matter of time before the Razorbacks had a flurry of commitments. Chad Morris and his staff did a good job of closing on the 2018 class, despite its poor ranking, and have continued getting high-profile players on campus - which is half the battle at Arkansas - this cycle.
"The staff has been able to sell early playing time and the vision of turning around the program. However, being in the top 20 at this point is probably a surprise to everyone. The defensive side of the ball has been particularly impressive, with the defensive line standing out the most. I believe hiring a proven defensive coordinator like John Chavis has been a huge key. They see the pressure he brings and guys like Myles Garrett that he’s coached in the past and they want to have that opportunity.”
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“Especially since Morris is an offensive coach you would think a lot more offensive players would gravitate toward him, but his relationship with high school coaches is something he’s cultivated over the years.
“He’s done a very good job getting in with high schools, not only that he worked with or knew about when he was a high school coach himself, but ones he’s just building a relationship with now. He’s doing a really good job selling the future of the program.”