Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Catalon says he will return to Razorbacks in 2022
Arkansas' Jalen Catalon (1) against Rice during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE — Safety Jalen Catalon will return to Arkansas for the 2022 season.
Catalon, a third-year sophomore who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in October, announced his return in a video he narrated that was posted to his social media accounts Tuesday.
“This place has been a second home for me since I arrived in 2019,” Catalon says in the 55-second video that includes highlights from the 2020 and 2021 seasons. “The love and support from my coaches and the great fans here have been second to none. The relationships and accolades made on and off the field have been something I’ll forever be proud of and cherish. Every time I step foot on the field, all I want to do is put my best foot forward and wear that Razorback logo with pride and honor.
“My family always told me, 'Follow your heart and just enjoy the journey,' and that journey will continue here.”
Catalon (5-10, 200 pounds) played two games with a broken hand before opting for the surgery on his shoulder. Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said Catalon had played with a “tear” in the shoulder during the Razorbacks’ first five games.
“I think it’s time for him to get that shoulder fixed," Pittman said Oct. 16. "I think that’s best for the kid."
Catalon starred during the Razorbacks' 4-0 start to the season. He had 11 tackles and a pair of interceptions that set up touchdowns during the season-opening win over Rice, and combined for 17 tackles and 3 pass breakups in the following games against Texas and Georgia Southern.
Catalon had 99 tackles and 3 interceptions during his first full season playing for the Razorbacks in 2020 when he was a Freshman All-American and semifinalist for the Thorpe Award.
Catalon, one of five team captains this season, is the third draft-eligible starter to announce his intention to return to Arkansas next season. Offensive linemen Ricky Stromberg and Dalton Wagner have said they will return for their fourth and sixth seasons, respectively.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.