FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas bolstered its wide receiver position by signing two players as part of its 2014 class Tuesday.
One was expected. The other was a recruiting surprise.
Arizona Western Community College receiver Cody Hollister signed with the Razorbacks as the junior college signing period opened Tuesday morning, according to Hawgs Illustrated. Hollister was joined by Evangel (La.) Christian Academy receiver Jared Cornelius, who signed a financial aid agreement with the program.
Cornelius made a verbal commitment to Arkansas earlier this year before changing his mind and choosing Texas Christian last week. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound receiver made his final switch Tuesday, signing his agreement with plans to enroll in January and go through spring practice with the Razorbacks.
“Jared has developed a winning attitude through his family and program he excelled in at Evangel Christian,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said in a statement. “We are excited to get him in our Razorback family and watch his dreams become a reality.”
Rivals.com and Scout.com rate Cornelius as a three-star prospect on a five-star scale. He helped Evangel Christian win the District 1-3A championship and advance to the Louisiana Division II state quarterfinals as a senior, catching 71 passes for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns. Cornelius also had 1,585 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior in 2012.
Hollister, meanwhile, is rated as a two-star prospect on a five-star scale. The 6-foot-4 receiver caught 63 passes for 877 yards with 5 touchdowns in 2013 and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining when he arrives at Arkansas.
The two receivers are among 18 players who have signed or made verbal commitments to Arkansas for the 2014 class. A new NCAA rule this season allowed high school seniors on track to graduate in December and enroll in college for the spring semester to sign financial aid agreements with their school of choice. The agreements bind the school to the player, but not vice versa.
Hollister, Cornelius, Bolivar (Mo.) quarterback Rafe Peavey and Lassiter (Ga.) High cornerback Chris Murphy all plan to be on campus in January. The four also are scheduled to participate in spring practice in preparation for the 2014 season.
Value Set at $74 million
The Arkansas football program is the 12th-most valuable in the NCAA, according to date compiled by Forbes.
The Razorbacks have an estimated value of $74 million with total revenue of $61 million and profits of $32 million for the 2012-13 academic year. But all three figures are down from the 2011-12 academic year, when Arkansas ranked 10th in value ($83 million) with revenue of $64 million and profits of $40 million.
The report cited Arkansas’ coaching staff change after the 2012 season and its failure to reach a bowl game for the drop in value. Arkansas went 4-8 in 2012 and replaced John L. Smith with Bret Bielema, paying a buyout of $1 million to sign the coach to a contract worth $3.2 million annually.
Arkansas had reached No. 8 on the Forbes list after the 2010 season, which was one of the most successful in school history with the school’s first appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game. The program’s value was set at $89 million.
The Razorbacks were ranked sixth among SEC teams on the Forbes list for the 2012-13 academic year. Alabama is the most valuable SEC program and ranked third in the country ($110 million). LSU was fourth ($105 million), Florida sixth ($94 million), Georgia eighth ($91 million) and Auburn 11th ($77 million).
Texas A&M (14th at $72 million), South Carolina (18th at $65 million) and Tennessee (20th at $63 million) also were among the top 20 on the Forbes list. Texas was ranked No. 1 overall ($139 million) and Notre Dame was second ($117 million).
Arkansas is likely in line for another fall on the Forbes list next year because of its 3-9 season in 2013. Forbes noted that a team’s value is determined by the “value to its athletic department, its university’s academic endeavors, its conference and its school’s local economy.”