Coaching key to Hogs football resurgence

By now all Hog fans that care, know that receiver Treylon Burks went to the Tennessee Titans as the 18th pick of the first round of the NFL Draft.

Defensive lineman John Ridgeway, who has evidently nicknamed himself the Vanilla Gorilla, went to the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round, and the Jacksonville Jaguars selected defensive back Montaric Brown in the seventh round.

That’s it. That’s all. Three Hogs drafted.

Now a host of other former Razorbacks have signed and will sign free-agent deals. Even former Razorback basketball player Trey Wade has reportedly been invited to the Arizona Cardinals’ rookie mini camp to try and leverage his considerable size, speed, and talent to get payed to play. It’s a long shot, but it’s happened before.

But only three Hogs were drafted off a Razorback squad that finished a solid 9-4 in Sam Pittman’s second year as the Razorbacks’ head coach.

Did the Hogs overachieve on the field last year?

I think it’s clear they did, and that should make Razorback fans excited for what is to come from the program in the near future.

As usual, the SEC led the pack with the most number of athletes drafted at 65 compared to the Big 10’s 45.

Georgia led the way with 15 Bulldogs taken, an SEC record.

LSU was next with 10, followed by Alabama with 7, Ole Miss with 6, Tennessee 5, Texas A&M 4, Kentucky 4, Florida 3, Arkansas 3, South Carolina 3, Mississippi State 2, Missouri 2, and Auburn 1.

Now, the NFL Draft is just one measure of a program’s talent, but it’s pretty clear Pittman did more with less last season.

While it isn’t exactly the same, Pittman is certainly using what he learned while coaching for Kirby Smart at Georgia as he builds the Razorback program.

Now, Georgia sits in a much more fertile recruiting territory than Arkansas with Atlanta less than two hours away and Florida right next door. Hog fans should not expect Arkansas to explode into a top-five program in a matter of years like the Bulldogs did so quickly under Smart, who cut his teeth as an assistant and defensive coordinator for Nick Saban at Alabama.

But the Hogs, who finished in the Top 20 last season for the first time in about a decade, are on the rise under Pittman, and it looks like it is going to be fun for Razorback fans to watch the Hogs rise over the next few seasons.

Arkansas has an incredibly tough schedule this season, thanks to what is the strongest non-conference schedule the Razorbacks have ever played from top to bottom.

The Razorbacks might be a better football team this season than last, but their record might not be as good because of the competition.

Either way, Pittman is building a winner at Arkansas, and that’s good to see. The Hogs are recruiting better too, which could mean more just three NFL Draft selections in the future.