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Andy Hodges

Morris’ recruiting looking more like Clemson’s path than Alabama

Forget about Chad Morris building a recruiting machine that will compete with Alabama for the best recruiting classes in the country anytime soon. If it does ever happen, it won’t be quick.

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Forget about Chad Morris building a recruiting machine that will compete with Alabama for the best recruiting classes in the country anytime soon.

If it does ever happen, it won’t be quick.

No, Morris made it clear in his opening press conference last December that he was wanting to pattern Razorback football more along the lines of what Dabo Swinney did at Clemson than what Nick Saban has done with the Crimson Tide.

Let’s face it, Alabama has been recruiting at a Top 20 pace since the 1920’s and Saban inherited a program that was at that level. He just bumped it to a higher level. Kirby Smart is doing the same thing at Georgia and Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M … that’s the Saban coaching tree.

Morris is the first Swinney assistant to land a head coaching position, so there’s not really a coaching tree there yet.

What Morris started at SMU (and didn’t come close to finishing) gives you an idea that what he’s done at Arkansas in his first year (and second recruiting class) is along the lines of what Swinney did at Clemson.

Don’t start comparing the Razorbacks’ job Morris inherited to what Dabo got at Clemson. He’d been on the staff for six years before taking over on an interim basis from Tommy Bowden in 2008.

And the Tigers hadn’t been terrible under Bowden. In the last 21 years they’ve had one losing season — in 1998.

No, what it appears Morris is doing in following the same path. Clemson’s recruiting has never been at the level of Alabama and didn’t consistently get into the 247Sports.com composite top 10 until Swinney’s seventh season.

In Swinney’s 11 seasons, they’ve landed 83 four-stars and 15 five-stars. His first year they were No. 36 in the recruiting rankings, up to No. 27 in the second year. Morris is on track to have a bigger differential between his first and second recruiting classes than that.

Alabama? In those same 11 seasons, they’ve landed 190 four stars and 47 five stars. More than double the four-star players and over three times the number of five-star players as the Tigers.

How has Clemson even gotten in the College Football Playoff the last four years and will now be playing for the title for the third time in that period?

It gets to the other part of what Morris has said about recruiting. Getting the players is one thing, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t develop them after they get there.

If Saban and his staff do anything, it’s develop those talented players they get.

There is an argument to be made Swinney and his staff are better that that.

By comparison, over the last 11 seasons, Arkansas has landed, well, 50 four-star players and just two five stars. Neither of the highest-rated players performed at that level.

Darius Winston (signed in 2009) and McTelvin Agim (signed in 2016) played, but not at the level you expect from a five-star recruit. Those are the players you hope are around for only three years.

The last highest-rated Razorback recruit recently that played to a five-star level (for whatever reason) was Darren McFadden (and that was 12 years ago). Mitch Mustain’s saga has been well documented and Ryan Mallett had a five-star arm and two-star decision-making after transferring in from Michigan.

The Hogs aren’t going to be recruiting at even the Clemson level for a couple of years. If they did, the fans wouldn’t particularly like it because wading through NCAA investigations that could go on for five or six years is worse than the final penalties.

There probably won’t be overnight results … in either recruiting on wins-losses. Ignore the internet sociopaths and the bipolar lunatic fringe in Razorback Nation.

It will get better, though.

Mainly because it’s hard to see how it could get worse.

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