FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — Bret Bielema's lengthy history of coaching standout running backs has helped him land yet another top rusher.
The Arkansas coach, in desperate need of filling the void left by the departed backfield of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, signed a class of 20 players Wednesday highlighted by Texas running back Devwah Whaley.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Whaley rushed for 1,701 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior in high school. He signed with the Razorbacks over scholarship offers from a number of Southeastern Conference schools, including Georgia and Alabama, along with other schools such as Notre Dame and Stanford.
Whaley is expected to see significant action as a freshman in 2016, particularly following the departures to the NFL by Collins — who rushed for 3,703 yards in three seasons — and Williams.
"I've recruited a lot of good running backs," Bielema said. "In my opinion, he's as good as any I've recruited."
While Whaley came from Texas to fill an immediate need for Arkansas, Bielema stayed in the state to sign the school's top-rated recruit in 6-foot-3, 280-pound McTelvin Agim.
Agim played at Hope (Ark.) High School, where he had 24 sacks as a senior, and he enrolled with the Razorbacks at the beginning of the semester. He was rated a five-star player by one recruiting service, and he was one of four signees from in the state, including wide receivers Jordan Jones and T.J. Hammonds along with defensive tackle Austin Capps.
Having graduated three-year starting quarterback Brandon Allen, the Razorbacks enter the spring facing the first true quarterback competition in Bielema's career at Arkansas. To that end, they signed another signal caller in 6-foot-7, 260-pound Cole Kelley from Louisiana.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: McTelvin Agim, DE, Hope (Ark.)
Best of the rest: Devwah Whaley, RB, Beaumont, Texas; Austin Capps, DT, Star City, Arkansas; Briston Guidry, DT, Metairie, Louisiana
One that got away: Running back Kyle Porter, who chose Texas.
How they'll fit in: Agim was an early enrollee with the Razorbacks, and he hopes to play as a freshman. However, Whaley carries with him more than hope and is expected by himself and Arkansas' coaches to take the field in place of Collins and Williams in 2016.