Analyst: Razorbacks’ early class showcases quality

An Arkansas football helmet sits on the ground prior to a game between the Razorbacks and Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.
An Arkansas football helmet sits on the ground prior to a game between the Razorbacks and Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.

The University of Arkansas football recruiting class of 16 high school signees has six 4-star prospects, according to CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.

Lemming, who played himself in the movie "The Blind Side," has been traveling the nation seeing the top prospects across the country since 1978.

The Hogs signed eight recruits on the offense and seven on defense. while JuJu Pope, 6-0, 195 pounds, of Batesville (Miss.) South Panola, could play running back or defensive back for Arkansas

Defensive lineman Charleston Collins, 6-5, 261, of Mills, chose the Hogs over scholarship offers from Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Texas A&M, LSU, Oklahoma and others.

Lemming rates Collins as a 4-star plus prospect and the state's top prospect.

"He's a ball player, very disruptive to an offense and causes teams to double-team him," Lemming said. "He'll probably be moved inside, but he's athletic enough to play defensive end or tackle."

Lemming also rates defensive back Selman Bridges, 6-2, 163, of Temple (Texas) Lake Belton, a 4-star plus recruit.

"Bridges is a long corner with All-American ability," Lemming said. "He has impressive athletic ability. He could play corner or safety. He was all-state as a junior. He's one of the top DBs in Texas."

He picked Arkansas over Texas, TCU, Alabama, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon and others.

Receiver Ashton Bethel-Roman, 6-0, 171, of Missouri City, (Texas) Ridge Point, is a 4-star prospect, according to Lemming.

"He's an athletic receiver," Lemming said. "He can run, he has good hands and he has legit 4.4 speed. He can fly."

He chose Arkansas over Ole Miss, Nebraska, Arizona State, Baylor, Kansas State, Purdue, TCU, Texas Tech and others

Lemming said he is a believer in quarterback KJ Jackson, 6-4, 222, of Montgomery (Ala.) St. James, and sees him not getting the recognition he deserves. He also believes Arkansas offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino can work wonders with Jackson.

"I think he's one of the big sleepers at quarterback," said Lemming, who rates Jackson as a 4-star prospect. " He's not there yet, but he has the athletic ability to be really, really good. He can run and he can throw. He has the ability you look for in college now. He's a big thick kid who will probably be 225 or so in a year or two.

"If Petrino can do the job, which he usually does, KJ will be something. He can be one of the big surprises nationally. I like him. He's a nice kid, too. I liked him a lot."

Jackson picked the Hogs over Missouri, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Penn State and others.

Lemming met with running back signee Braylen Russell, 6-1, 240, of Benton, last year and initially thought he played another position after seeing him from afar.

"He was a thick kid. I thought he was a linebacker," said Lemming, who rates Russell as a 4-star prospect. "He's big, strong with good speed. Very physical runner."

Lemming said the state of Alabama has produced about 10 national recruits at defensive end Kavion Henderson's position the past few years, but believes he's on par with any of them.

"He's one of the more polish players ,one of the more productive players," said Lemming of Henderson while comparing him to the others. "He can close quickly. He's another one who forces the offense to scheme around him."

Henderson, 6-2, 253 of Leeds, Ala., chose the Razorbacks over Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan and others. Lemming rates him as a 4-star recruit.

Defensive back Tevis Metcalf, the younger brother Razorback safety TJ Metcalf, played in the U.S. Army Bowl on Monday at Frisco, Texas.

Lemming, who was on the U.S. Army Bowl broadcast, said he and the other broadcasters praised Metcalf's play.

"He's smaller guy, but he was hitting hard," said Lemming, who rates Metcalf as a 3-star recruit. "He was one of the guys we were talking about [on the broadcast]."

Metcalf, 5-10, 181, of Pinson, (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville, picked Arkansas over Auburn, Colorado, Georgia Tech and others.

The Hogs could add two more 4-star prospects to the class with running back J'Marion Burnette, 6-1, 230, of Andalusia, Ala., planning to make an official visit to Fayetteville on Jan. 12-14 and linebacker Bradley Shaw, 6-0, 220, of Hoover, Ala., looking to decide between Arkansas and Clemson in the near future.

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