If Bret Bielema doesn't have a nickname right now, he may have earned one with his first recruiting class at Arkansas.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema came in late, but still managed to sign the No. 22 class.
Bielema could quickly earn the name 'The Closer' if future recruiting classes are anything like his first one. Arkansas signed 23 players, but only used 25 official visits after Bielema was hired. Of the 23 he signed, three had used their official visit before Bielema was hired. That means Bielema used 25 official visits to sign 20 recruits. That's an 80-percent closing rate which is almost unheard of at Arkansas.
Weed (Calif.) College of the Siskiyous 3-star linebacker Myke Tavarres visited Arkansas on July 25 while Salinas (Calif.) Hartnell College 4-star cornerback Carroll Washington was at Arkansas on Aug. 5. A new rule this past year allowed junior college athletes who were going to be able to sign in December to visit during the summer. El Dorado (Kan.) Butler County Community College composite 3-star offensive lineman Johnathan McClure also signed at midterm and visited on Oct. 12 during the season.
Bielema's first time to host official visitors was a Dec. 11 midweek pair of recruits from Georgia Military College. 3-star safety Tiquention Coleman committed to Arkansas during the visit while linebacker Neville Hewitt wasn't offered. He signed with Marshall.
Arkansas hosted 12 recruits the weekend of Jan. 18. Arvada (Colo.) Ralston County 3-star offensive tackle Dan Skipper actually started his visit on Jan. 17 and left on Jan. 19 to head to Ohio State. Bielema and the Razorbacks ended up signing 10 of the 12 who visited. Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington 3-star safety Dominique Alexander inked with Oklahoma while North Little Rock 4-star running back Altee Tenpenny signed with Alabama. Both Alexander and Tenpenny were committed to those schools before Bielema was hired at Arkansas.
The ones from that weekend who signed with the Razorbacks were Skipper, Pulaski Academy 4-star tight end Hunter Henry, Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis 4-star offensive guard Reeve Koehler, Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College 3-star linebacker Martrell Spaight, Forrest City 3-star defensive end Tevin Beanum, City College of San Francisco 2-star punter Sam Irwin-Hill, Greenwood 2-star athlete Drew Morgan and the Fayetteville trio of 4-star quarterback Austin Allen, 3-star linebacker Brooks Ellis and 3-star safety Alex Brignoni.
The Razorbacks followed that weekend with seven recruits checking out Arkansas on Jan. 25. That too proved to be a productive weekend for the Hogs. Arkansas inked five of the visitors. Bellaire (Texas) 3-star offensive tackle Dwayne Johnson went to Nebraska and Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe 3-star offensive tackle Kenny Lacy went to UCLA.
The five who signed with Arkansas were Miami (Fla.) Northwestern composite 3-star safety De'Andre Coley, Rivera Beach (Fla.) Suncoast 3-star defensive tackle Ke'Tyrus Marks, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) South Plantation 5-star running back Alex Collins, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington 4-star offensive lineman Denver Kirkland and Newton (Texas) 3-star cornerback D.J. Dean.
Bielema and his staff saved their best recruiting for last. The Razorbacks hosted four recruits on the Feb. 1 weekend. Arkansas signed all four. The visitors were Egg Harbor (N.J.) Township 4-star quarterback Damon Mitchell, Osceola 3-star safety Korliss Marshall, Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff 3-star wide receiver Melvinson Hartfield and Bellaire (Texas) composite 3-star running back Denzell Evans.