HOGS: Morris signs star-studded class
FAYETTEVILLE - Four-star rated tight end Hudson Henry of Pulaski Academy, receiver Treylon Burks of Warren and defensive back Jalen Catalon of Legacy High in Mansfield, Texas, and three-star running back A’Montae Spivey of Phenix City, Ala., became the last four additions Wednesday to Arkansas’ 2019 signing class.
Including graduate transfer quarterback Ben Hicks of SMU, Arkansas coach Chad Morris and his staff have signed 26 to 2019 scholarships and have room to sign three more on the 85-man roster for 2019.
Additionally, Morris announced the signings of five preferred walk-ons. They are defensive back Hudson Clark of Dallas Highland Park and four Arkansans: offensive lineman Logan Kalleson of Shiloh Christian; linebacker Logan Orr of Jonesboro; offensive lineman Drew Vest of Searcy High; and receiver John David White of Pulaski Academy.
Jalan Catalon, out for 2018 upon tearing his ACL in the season-opener but nationally coveted nonetheless, committed to Arkansas in January and stayed with his commitment to sign Wednesday.
Spivey had committed to and stuck with Arkansas despite being recruited hard by Ole Miss.
“(Catalon is) one of the top high school football players I think I’ve ever seen,” Morris said. “Top five for sure. Fantastic player, played safety and can play a lot of different positions. I’ve been watching high school football for a very long time and recruiting for a very long time, and this young man is one of the best I’ve seen.”
Asked later to elaborate on some of those elite high school players whom Morris deemed to rate Catalon with, Morris replied quarterback Deshaun Watson, Clemson’s 2016 national championship quarterback, and Vince Young, the former Texas Longhorns national championship quarterback from Houston whom Morris had seen while coaching high school ball in Texas.
Hudson Henry hails from one of the Razorbacks’ foremost families. Mark Henry, Hudson’s father, started at center for the Razorbacks in the 1980s and ’90s. Oldest brother Hunter Henry was voted the Mackey Award as the nation’s outstanding tight end while earning All-America honors under former UA coach Bret Bielema in 2015, and older brother Hayden Henry lettered at linebacker for Morris’ Razorbacks last season.
Hudson Henry was rated the nation’s top high school tight end by ESPN after catching 86 passes for 1,207 yards with 14 touchdowns in 2018 for Coach Kevin Kelley’s Pulaski Academy Bruins.
“We know his family and the legacy they have,” Morris said. “We know what Coach Kelley has done there, and man it’s just been phenomenal of this young man, 6-5, 235. I feel like he’s going to come in and make a major impact watching him and the success he’s had.”
Burks (6-3, 225), injured in 2018, was still rated the top player in the state by 247 Sports off his outstanding 2017 year at receiver and linebacker. He will open as a receiver during August preseason drills.
“Just been a fantastic player,” Morris said. “Obviously suffered an injury this year but just a great young man.”
Arkansas needs running back depth. Spivey should supply some of that, and wedges Arkansas’ foot in the door at one of Alabama’s most prestigious high school programs, Morris said.
“A’Monte Spivey, a running back from Central High School in Phenix City, Alabama, a traditional powerhouse and won a state championship this year,” Morris said. “Absolutely a dominant program in that state. I’ve got great connections there, and this definitely continues to open up a pipeline to get kids out of the state of Alabama. I’m extremely excited about him, a 6-1, 208 running back, a big, physical back.”
Wednesday offered Morris the first opportunity with media to discuss Hicks, recruited to and redshirted at SMU in 2015 by Morris then blossoming to be Morris’ starting SMU quarterback in 2016 and 2017 and starting again in 2018 for current SMU coach Sonny Dykes.
“He was with us three years at SMU,” Morris said. “The all-time leading passer. Excited to have his leadership, his competitiveness in our program. He’s done a great job getting in and building those relationships.”
With 2018 Arkansas starting quarterback Ty Storey submitting his name in the graduate transfer portal, Hicks is expected in the spring practices (starting Feb. 26) to compete for the QB job with returning redshirt freshmen Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones, third-year sophomore Daulton Hyatt and walk-on letterman holder Jack Lindsey.
Nationally, the Razorbacks, despite a 2-10 season including 0-8 in the SEC, are rated a composite Top 25 recruiting class by the major recruiting services. Those signed in December include defensive back Greg Brooks, Harvey, La.; defensive lineman Taurean Carter, Mansfield (Legacy), Texas; defensive back Malik Chavis, Rison; defensive lineman Collin Clay, Putnam City High in Oklahoma City; offensive lineman Myron Cunningham of Warren via Iowa Central Junior College; defensive lineman Eric Gregory of Memphis via IMG Academy; defensive lineman Enoch Jackson, Mansfield (Legacy) Texas; receiver TQ Jackson, Jefferson, Texas; quarterback KJ Jefferson, Sardis, Miss.; receiver Trey Knox, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; offensive lineman Brady Latham, Jenks, Okla.; offensive lineman Beaux Limmer, Tyler, (Lee) Texas; defensive lineman Marcus Miller, Warren; receiver Shamar Nash, Memphis via IMG Academy; offensive lineman Chibueze Nwanna; Hyattsville, Md;
offensive lineman Dylan Ratchke, Baton Rouge, La.; defensive lineman Mataio Soli, Douglasville, Ga.; center Ricky Stromberg, Tulsa Union; defensive lineman Zach Williams, Little Rock Joe T. Robinson; linebacker Zach Zimos; Richmond Texas; and defensive back Devin Bush, New Orleans.
Knox, Nash, Brooks, Bush, Soli, Gregory, Williams, Myron Cunningham, Chibueze Nwanna, Hicks and preferred walk-on Vest already are UA enrolled and participating in off-season conditioning drills as December graduates from their previous programs.
“With the new additions to an already strong class for 2019, we got better today without a doubt,” Morris said. “Being here one full year and going through one full year of a recruiting cycle, to be able to sign the class that we signed, I’m excited about the future of 2019 and the Arkansas Razorbacks.”
With three scholarships left, Morris said 2019 recruiting is not necessarily complete. Morris is ready to add a linebacker and quarterback, but he's cautious about signing players just because he can.
“We're not gonna get in a hurry just to fill spots,” Morris said. “That's the one thing I've found in this business you can get yourself in trouble in. If we find the right fit for us, we will fill it, but if we don't then that's OK.”
Morris has one full-time assistant position to fill since defensive tackles coach John Scott, a South Carolina native, returned to his native state to the coach the defensive line at the University of South Carolina.
Morris said he’s considering several options which may include having defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell coach the entire defensive line and adding a coach designated as special teams coordinator.
“There is a possibility of that, or a special teams coordinator who will coach a position as well,” Morris said. “There’s different options there. We hope to have a replacement definitely before the start of spring ball.”
UA 2019 FOOTBALL SIGNEES
1. Greg Brooks DB 5-11 178 Harvey, La. West Jefferson
2. Taurean Carter DL 6-3 263 Mansfield, Texas Mansfield Legacy
3. Malik Chavis DB 6-2 187 Rison
4. Collin Clay DL 6-5 261 Oklahoma City Putnam City
5. Myron Cunningham OL 6-6 300 Warren, Ohio Iowa Central JC
6. Eric Gregory DL 6-4 270 Memphis, Tenn. IMG Academy
7. Enoch Jackson DL 6-0 290 Mansfield, Texas, Legacy
8. TQ Jackson WR 6-4 195 Jefferson, Texas
9. KJ Jefferson QB 6-3 211 Sardis, Miss. North Panola
10. Trey Knox WR 6-5 218 Murfreesboro, Tenn.
11. Brady Latham OL 6-5 290 Jenks, Okla.
12. Beaux Limmer OL 6-5 270 Tyler, Texas
13. Marcus Miller DL 6-5 300 Warren
14. Shamar Nash WR 6-3 194 Memphis, Tenn. IMG Academy
15. Chibueze Nwanna OL 6-3 315 Hyattsville, Md.
16. Dylan Ratchke OL 6-5 290 Baton Rouge La. University Lab
17. Mataio Soli DL 6-4 230 Douglasville, Ga. Douglas County
18. Ricky Stromberg OL 6-4 280 Tulsa, Okla. Union
19. Zach Williams DL 6-4 235 Joe T. Robinson
20. Zach Zimos LB 6-4 210 Richmond, Texas Fort Bend Travis
21. Devin Bush DB 6-0 187 New Orleans, La. Edna Karr
22. Ben Hicks QB 6-1 214 Waco, Texas (SMU)
SIGNED FEB. 6
23. Treylon Burks WR 6-3, 225 Warren
24. Jalan Catalon DB 5-10 188 Mansfield, Texas Legacy
25. Hudson Henry TE 6-5 235 Pulaski Academy
26. A’Montae Spivey RB 6-1 208 Phenix City, Ala.
PREFERRED WALK-ONS SIGNED FEB. 6
1. Hudson Clark DB 6-2 180 Dallas Highland Park
2. Logan Kalleson OL 6-4 295 Shiloh Christian
3. Logan Orr LB 6-2 220 Jonesboro High
4. Drew Vest OL 6-6 290 Searcy
5. John D. White WR 5-11 180 Pulaski Academy