Hognobbing

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FAYETTEVILLE –Arkansas head football coach Chad Morris had strong words last Saturday when a reporter asked him to assess the Razorbacks’ overall talent level.

While the question presented Morris a perfect opportunity to get some first-year excuses out of the way, he decided to take a different approach.

After casually mentioning the need for improved size and speed in certain areas, Morris went into a three-minute recruiting pitch that later became a huge hit with fans on message boards and social media.

“I mean, you’re the University of Arkansas. Why not? I can’t figure it out. Why not? This program, this university, this state, man, they’re so ready for this,” Morris said. “Once we get it going – and we’re going to get it going – all we’ve ever done is win. We’re going to get it going. Once we do, it’s going to take off.

“We want this to be popular,” he continued. “To wear the Hog around, that’s popular. While it may not be as popular right now, I’m okay with that. Great. That’s okay, because it will be. You better get on the bandwagon now. Is it going to take time? Absolutely, everything is going to take some time.”

Exactly how much time it will take is still to be determined, but there are signs that Arkansas is heading in the right direction on the recruiting trail.

The most telling is that in just three months on the job, Morris’s staff has already hosted more talent than Bret Bielema’s crew had on campus in the previous two recruiting cycles combined.

That’s not hyperbole, either.

Since Morris’s arrival on December 7, Arkansas has received visits from more four-star prospects than Bielema had between the start of the 2017 class and when he was terminated in November 2018.

The Hogs’ Elite Prospect Day two Saturdays ago produced more than 40 recruits who hold multiple Power-5 offers, including a dozen who are currently found in the nation’s top 250 rankings by Rivals.com.

If there’ve ever been a more ‘stars’ on Arkansas’ campus at the same time, it hadn’t happened since the Rivals.com era began in 2002.

That, of course, doesn’t even include the dozens of heavily-recruited three-stars or younger prospects who haven’t yet been evaluated by Rivals.

Morris’s efforts are beginning to pay off, too, as Arkansas is now a strong contender for a number of heavily-recruited prospects that, traditionally-speaking, have never given the Hogs a serious look.

Of course, simply being in the mix and actually landing those players on National Signing Day are totally different things, and it’s definitely not easy for a program to get over the hump.

Morris just hopes the blue-chip targets will start to roll the dice and trust his vision in Fayetteville.

“There’s some recruit out there watching right now, and he either wants to be a part of something popular or he wants to go somewhere and make something popular,” Morris said. “One of the two, that’s what we deal with in recruiting. You’re either, ‘I want to go where it’s already popular’ or ‘I want to be the reason why it becomes popular.’ That’s our philosophy. We want you to want to be here. If I’ve got to beg you to be here then we’ve got issues.”