By Kyle Sutherland and Nate Olson | Photo by Sadie Rucker
The third time was a charm for the University of Arkansas football program as Isaiah Sategna became Arkansas’ 20th commit for the 2022 class Wednesday night.
The ultra-speedy Fayetteville High School wide receiver initially committed to Texas A&M in March and decommitted from the Aggies on June 17. Ten days later, it appeared the Razorbacks were completely out of the picture when he named USC and Oregon as his top two, ultimately choosing the Ducks on July 10.
“I have been thinking about [Arkansas] for a while,” Sategna said during a phone interview Thursday morning. “I was just waiting to see how the [Arkansas] season was going to go. At the beginning, it went real well, and they were ranked No. 8 and having success. You could see [Arkansas coach Sam Pittman] had changed the culture, and I just wanted to be a hometown Hog.”
The 4-star prospect is the top player in Arkansas and 133rd overall per the 247Sports composite rankings. Sategna had more than 30 offers, including his previous pledges Texas A&M and Oregon as well as Florida State, LSU, Michigan and Penn State.
“[Arkansas] had stopped talking to me, but I hit them back up and said I liked what they were doing and asked if they would consider recruiting me again,” he said.
Sategna said Arkansas receivers coach Kenny Guiton and Pittman began reaching out early in the fall, and he met with them in-person twice after the season started.
Sategna said not only was Arkansas’ early success a major consideration in his decision but also the opportunities that exist in the Hogs’ receiving corps.
“Another factor that played into it was I thought I had a chance to come in and start, maybe not right away, but early on,” Sategna said. “But actually, I think I can start right away — that is my goal.”
No. 7 Oregon is 7-1 with its only loss coming to Stanford, 31-24 in overtime. Considering its start and rise on the college football scene this fall, that made it difficult to break the news to Ducks coach Mario Cristobal.
“It was very hard,” Sategna said. “I really wanted to go to Oregon. I liked everything about it. I just felt that I had a better opportunity at Arkansas. It wasn’t like I’ve decided to go to Arkansas because I don’t like Oregon.”
Since his commitment to the Ducks, all focus has been on his senior season at FHS and so far it has been very successful as the Bulldogs sit at 7-2 (6-0 in the 7A West) and have clinched the conference title. Sategna leads the state in receiving yards (1,260) and is tied for second in touchdowns (nine). He also has carried the ball three times for 149 yards, finding the end zone on all three of those touches. As a junior, he caught 41 passes for 814 yards and seven scores.
The Purple Dogs play host to Springdale Har-Ber on Friday night with a chance to win the 7A-West Conference title outright. That would be the first time a Fayetteville team has accomplished that since 1963. Sategna is relieved to make the flip before the Purple Dogs begin their postseason run.
“I don’t have to worry about recruiting anymore, I can just focus on the playoffs,” he said. “It has been exciting. Since I’ve been playing football at Fayetteville, we haven’t had a of success, but this year has been different, having one of the best offensive coordinators in the country and our defense is outstanding. We are seasoned and jelling and playing as one.”
Like his parents, Sategna excels at track and field and will compete at Arkansas, the nation’s best program historically, in that sport. His father, Mario, was a Razorback track and field assistant from 2018-21 and was a part of the teams that won the SEC Indoor Championships in 2020 and 2021 as well as the SEC Outdoor Championships in May.
“I wasn’t going to go somewhere that wasn’t good in track,” Sategna said. “That’s one of the reasons I had decided on Oregon.”
Sategna was named the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore after winning five individual indoor state championships, which was initially the beginning of being catapulted into the national spotlight. That year, he set state records in the 60-meter dash and the 60-meter high hurdles at the 6A state meet. His 7.88 seconds in the 60 hurdles ranked fifth in the country among prep athletes, and he was in the top 100 in the nation in five other events.
Sategna will not enroll at Arkansas early as he will prepare for his senior season of track and field. He will play in the 2022 Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 8, which will be aired on NBC.