Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Catalon transferring from Arkansas; Jones not expected to return
Arkansas defensive back Jalen Catalon (1) against Rice during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon will enter the NCAA transfer portal.
Catalon, a redshirt junior who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, has suffered season-ending shoulder injuries the past two seasons, including this year during the first half of Arkansas’ season-opening 31-24 victory over Cincinnati. Catalon underwent reconstructive shoulder surgery in September.
“I think he just wants a fresh start,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “I talked to him about if he was going to leave here, if he wanted my advice, I would just declare for the NFL and give (that) a chance. But he had a different view on it. Whatever he wants to do, we’ll be fine with it.”
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Catalon would be at least the 19th player from Arkansas’ 2022 roster to enter the portal this offseason, but one of the most high-profile players.
In his only full season to play at Arkansas, Catalon was a Thorpe Award semifinalist in 2020. He was also a Freshman All-American that season by the Football Writers Association of America.
Catalon, who grew up in Mansfield, Texas, has battled injuries throughout his career. In addition to the shoulder injuries the past two seasons, he suffered a knee injury during his senior season of high school that limited his role as a true freshman in 2019.
In addition to Catalon, Pittman said he does not expect offensive lineman Luke Jones to return to the program after the bowl game. Jones, a Little Rock native who began his career at Notre Dame, has a sixth season of eligibility available. He has started every game at left tackle this season.
Pittman said the majority of other players who have a sixth year of eligibility plan to return next season.
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