Mizzou ramping up rivalry with Hogs on national signing day

Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz, left, and Arkansas coach Sam Pittman shake hands after an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

If Arkansas Razorback fans still don’t see the Missouri Tigers as a rival, it might be the worst case of selective blindness in the SEC footprint.

Not only did Missouri sign 24/7 Sports’ top-rated high school football player in Arkansas in Pine Bluff wide receiver Courtney Crutchfield on Wednesday, Mizzou head coach Eliah Drinkwitz and his staff signed two more top-rated Arkansans in No. 7 Austyn Dendy also of Pine Bluff and No. 9 Valley View linebacker Brian Huff.

According to 24/7 Sports, two billboards celebrating Missouri’s signing of the Pine Bluff duo were erected overnight in the players’ hometown.

The move is certainly a slap in the face to the Razorback program and its fans as much as it is a congratulatory salute to the two athletes.

Fans who complain about Missouri being assigned to Arkansas as its “rival” by the SEC need to remember that disrespect on Nov. 30 when the Hogs travel to Columbia.

Missouri made hay in Arkansas after the Hogs’ 4-8 season, but other programs cherry-picked top-10 recruits, too.

The state’s No. 3 and No. 5 recruits quarterback Walker White of Little Rock Christian Academy and quarterback Drake Lindsey of Fayetteville opted to sign with Auburn and Minnesota respectively.

That means half of the state’s top 10 players elected to at least start their football careers outside the borders of their home state.

While that news isn’t good, the Razorbacks’ recruiting class is ranked No. 29 in the nation by 24/7 Sports. It’s down seven spots from last season. There is no way around that being a disappointment, but it was to be expected after the Hogs’ 4-8 season.

Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman all but admitted that in his news conference to announce the class, but said he and his staff would work to develop the signing class and that unlike with earlier in his tenure as coach they feel confident each player signed is capable of making a contribution to the program.

Pittman said the Razorbacks addressed their needs at quarterback and along the offensive line, which were priorities because of the struggles of this past season.

KJ Jefferson opted to exit the program with one season remaining, leaving a huge hole that must be filled. Jefferson certainly had limitations as a quarterback which were more apparent this past season than in the previous two, but he still leaves Arkansas with his name at the top of most of the quarterbacking records.

Bobby Petrino may be a quarterback whisperer as an offensive coordinator, but it will be a task to replace Jefferson’s production.

Pittman also introduced new offensive line coach Eric Mateos, who was a graduate assistant for the Head Hog when he was Arkansas’ offensive line coach himself from 2013-15, in the news conference. Following his time at Arkansas, Mateos was a G.A. at LSU in 2016, and offensive line coach at BYU 2019-20, and at Baylor 2021-23.

Arkansas’ offensive line struggled with inexperienced tackles and to adjust to Dan Enos’ offense in a season that was characterized by one-score losses to squads like LSU, Alabama, and Ole Miss before the bottom fell out with blowout losses to Auburn and Missouri in November.

Pittman said the Razorbacks have around eight roster spots that he would like to fill with difference-making transfers. On defense, the Hogs would like to add a cornerback, a linebacker, an edge rusher, and an interior defensive lineman. On Offense, the Hogs are looking for an interior offensive lineman, a running back, and a wide receiver.

Razorback 2024 Signing Class

Jayden AllenDB5-10, 163Aledo, Tex.
Ashton BethelWR6-0, 171Missouri City, Tex.
Keyshawn BlackstockOL6-5, 315Covington, Ga.
Kobe BranhamOL6-5, 323Fort Smith, Ark.
Selman BridgesDB6-2, 185Temple, Tex.
CJ BrownWR6-1, 185Bentonville, Ark.
Fernando CarmonaOL6-5, 314Las Vegas, Nev.
Charleston CollinsDL6-5, 261Pine Bluff, Ark.
Taylen GreenQB6-6, 221Lewisville, Tex.
KJ JacksonQB6-4, 222Montgomery, Ala.
Ahkhari JohnsonDB5-11, 179Texarkana, Tex.
Krosse JohnsonWR5-10, 170New Orleans, La.
Justin LoganLB6-2, 213Kennesaw, Ga.
Zuri MadisonOL6-3, 315Lexington, Ky.
Tevis MetcalfDB5-10, 181Clay, Ala.
Addison NicholsOL6-3, 327Norcross, Ga.
Andreas PaaskeTE6-6, 255Copenhagen, Dk
Juju PopeDB6-0, 195Pope, Miss.
Braylen RussellRB6-1, 240Benton, Ark.
Matthew ShipleyK6-1, 190Liberty Hill, Tex.
Wyatt SimmonsLB6-1, 213Searcy, Ark.
Doneiko SlaughterDB6-0, 190Roswell, Ga.
Xavian Sorey Jr.LB6-3, 220Campbelltown, Fla.