Nance to leave Hogs, transfer

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Arkansas receiver Jonathan Nance goes through warmups before the South Carolina game in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas receiver Jonathan Nance goes through warmups before the South Carolina game in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Jonathan Nance, the University of Arkansas' leading receiver in 2017, announced his intention to transfer in December.

He made the announcement early Monday via Twitter.

By not playing in a fifth game, Nance, a senior, will not lose this year of eligibility, based on a new redshirting rule put into effect by the NCAA for the 2018 season.

Nance met with Coach Chad Morris about his decision Sunday, then posted a statement on social media at 12:12 a.m.

"I want to thank Arkansas and my coaches for giving me a opportunity to compete on this level," Nance wrote. "It has been a great ride and have made life long friends that I will never take for granted. Unfortunately, I will use this year as my redshirt year and transfer in December to fulfill my dream to play football."

Nance, who would have to stay enrolled and maintain his eligibility through the semester, could not be reached for comment.

Multiple Arkansas players responded to the announcement with best wishes through social media accounts.

"He came to me and we had a great discussion [Sunday]," Morris said at his Monday news conference. "You don't ever want anyone to leave your program, but if that's what he felt was in the best interest for him, we want to wish him the best of luck."

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said Deon Stewart and Jordan Jones would move up at the outside receiver slot where Nance started the first four games. Nance had one catch for minus-2 yards this season. He was targeted on a few other occasions but the passes were not completed, such as a deep ball in the first quarter of Saturday's 34-3 loss at Auburn.

"It was Jonathan's decision to move on, and we wish him the best and we've got to move forward," Craddock said.

Nance led the Razorbacks with 37 catches for 539 yards and 5 touchdowns while making six starts in 2017. He had three catches for 100 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown, last year against Texas A&M, whom the Razorbacks play Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

Pro Football Focus determined he led the SEC with a catch rate of 66.7 percent on passes of 20-plus yards last season. A Twitter post made in July from Pro Football Focus with a graphic documenting Nance's downfield success was re-tweeted this week with comments from a few Arkansas players.

The new redshirting rule, approved by the NCAA Division I Council in June, was put in to allow players to participate in four games at any point in a season without burning a redshirt year. Though it was largely intended to give freshmen opportunities during their first year on campus, it applies to all players.

"I think when you look at the redshirt rule, I think this is part of the rule that I don't think anyone intended seeing it come like that," Morris said. "I've said it from the get go, I thought it was really good for the players. It keeps them involved. I think that looking at it like this, guys that want to graduate and move forward, once you graduate, I think you've earned that right if that's what you choose to do."

The rule could come into play at Arkansas for players like freshman quarterbacks Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones, who have played in one game each, and tackle Noah Gatlin, who started two early games while Colton Jackson was recovering from back surgery.

Sports on 09/25/2018

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