Sunday, June 16, 2024

Mid-South Spotlight: Five Programs Off To Strong Starts For 2026

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The 2026 Rivals250 was unveiled last month and programs around the country are beginning to sort out their priorities for the next recruiting cycle. Here are five programs from the Mid-South Region that are off to good starts with the 2026 class.

THIS SERIES: Five East Coast programs off to strong starts for 2026

ARKANSAS

It is obviously very early in the process, but as it stands right now, Arkansas holds the No. 6 class in the 2026 cycle. The Razorbacks have two commitments in the fold, one of which is four-star wide receiver Tay Lockett out of California powerhouse St. John Bosco.

The in-state crop in 2026 also gives Arkansas a lot to work with as there are already a handful of Rivals250 prospects inside the state’s borders and several other prospects that could work their way into the rankings. Razorbacks fans should have their attention on the No. 5 defensive tackle in the country in Danny Beale out of Cross County (Ark.) Cherry Valley. They were among his first offers and should be able to remain a top contender being the in-state program.

The most important thing for the Razorbacks will be putting a quality product on the field this season after going 4-8 overall and 1-7 in the SEC. If they can rebound and show life, the 2026 class can continue on a strong path.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ARKANSAS FANS AT HAWGBEAT.COM

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HOUSTON

Houston struggled in its first year in the Big 12, as was expected for the newcomers. But it is reasonable to expect the Cougars to field competitive rosters in the coming years. With the talent available in Houston and the surrounding area, they do not have to go far. Previously, any talent worthy of playing in Power Five conferences really did not give Houston the time of day.

But, we will see that change over time and Houston will be in the mix for some top talent in the city. It will also be a more attractive destination for transfer portal prospects looking to remain in the power conferences.

With a new staff in place in Houston, the Cougars will be able to use the 2024 and 2025 seasons to grow and progress, and put together a talented class in the 2026 cycle.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH HOUSTON FANS AT COUGARSDEN.COM

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LSU

Jahkeem Stewart (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

LSU will usually put together elite classes, but its 2026 class has a chance to be a step beyond even that. As it stands right now, three of the top 15 prospects in the class are from Louisiana, including the No. 1 overall prospect in Jahkeem Stewart. Defensive tackle Lamar Brown and safety Blaine Bradford sit at No. 13 and No. 14, respectively. Beyond the trio, there are seven Louisiana prospects in the Rivals250.

Brian Kelly has shown that the Tigers will continue to be a yearly contender for the SEC and that their recruiting will be among the top 10 on an annual basis. They are currently No. 3 in the 2025 class and while they don’t hold a commitment in the 2026 class, every sign points that they will be in a great spot to do it again.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH LSU FANS AT DEATHVALLEYINSIDER.COM

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OKLAHOMA

Jonathan Hatton Jr.

Jonathan Hatton Jr. (Parker Thune)

Oklahoma holds one commitment to date in the 2026 class from top-100 running back Jonathan Hatton Jr. out of Cibolo (Texas) Steele. Expect the Sooners to be the front-runners for the top prospects in the state of Oklahoma, of which there are currently three of in the Rivals250.

Oklahoma has also gained one of the top recruiting sells in the country, which is the ability to play in the SEC. Brent Venables will continue to grow the culture and brand in Norman and the Sooners will continue to be in the thick of recruitments of some of the top prospects in America.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OKLAHOMA FANS AT OUINSIDER.COM

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OKLAHOMA STATE

Quinn Murphy

Quinn Murphy

Oklahoma State typically marches to the beat of its own drum when it comes to recruiting. The Cowboys operate a bit different than most, often extending fewer total offers than their peers. Historically, the recruiting rankings have not been great or flashy for the Cowboys but they are consistently winning at a high clip with the players they bring in. And in the new-look Big 12, there is a good chance Oklahoma State takes the reins of that conference in the coming years.

The Cowboys do not yet hold any commitments in the class, but they have grabbed the attention of a few higher profile prospects such as four-star quarterback Quinn Murphy and four-star defensive lineman Tahj Overton. The 2026 class should be higher-ranked than OSU’s average of the past.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OKLAHOMA STATE FANS AT OSTATEILLUSTRATED.COM

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