Pool highlights another busy day of Razorback roster moves

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, January 8, 2022
Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool goes through warmups prior to a game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Fayetteville.
( David Beach/Special to the Democrat-Gazette )
Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool goes through warmups prior to a game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool announced on Friday that he would return to school for his super senior season, following the path position mates Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry took to good success in 2021.

Pool, a fourth-year senior from Lucas, Texas, made the announcement on the Extra Points podcast and released it on social media early Friday afternoon. His decision came after spending a couple of days with family in Texas.

“It’s been such a great process,” Pool said on the show. “I’ve been very excited to meet a lot of good people, get a lot of good advice. Ultimately I’m going to come back this year to Arkansas for my fifth year.

“I’m very excited about it. I think there’s a certain responsibility I have to continue the legacy and the tradition that we set this year.”

Pool’s decision came on another active day for the Arkansas football roster. Redshirt freshman quarterback Malik Hornsby officially entered the transfer portal as he had suggested on a social media post Thursday night. Also, defensive lineman Jalen Williams, a junior college transfer in 2021, announced he was in the portal and committed to Southern Miss in his home state.

Pool’s decision stemmed what had been a substantial outflow of talent for the Razorbacks this week, including the departures of defensive backs Joe Foucha and Greg Brooks Jr., on Wednesday and Thursday. Also, both Henry and Morgan exhausted their eligibility after posting 100-plus tackles along with Pool this season.

“With all the guys leaving, I just feel like this is the year I can come back and continue that legacy, and we’re excited to go out next year and continue the winning streaks,” Pool said.

Pool will be one of just a few returning starters on the Arkansas defense. Defensive line starters John Ridgeway, Tre Williams and Markell Utsey have all declared for the NFL Draft along with cornerback Montaric Brown, and defensive backs Brooks and Foucha are in the portal.

Jalen Catalon (6 starts) and Myles Slusher (7) split 13 starts at one safety spot, LaDarrius Bishop (9) and Hudson Clark (4) split starts at cornerback opposite Brown, Simeon Blair (7) and Malik Chavis (2) got starts at the dime spot, and Jayden Johnson made three starts at nickel back ahead of Brooks.

Pool added further clarity to his podcast remarks in a social media post, writing, “I feel a certain responsibility to the state of Arkansas, the University and my teammates to continue the tradition, standard and legacy that has been set by our football program.”

Despite being listed as making one start, Pool led the Razorbacks and tied for 10th nationally with 125 tackles last season.

Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman openly touted his recruitment of Pool up to and including at the Outback Bowl last Saturday, which the Razorbacks won 24-10 over Penn State to cap a 9-4 season.

Pool will enter 2022 with 349 career tackles in 44 games to rank ninth in school history. He is eight tackles behind 2010 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Ronnie Caveness for eighth place and 59 behind all-time leader Tony Bua, who had 408 stops from 2000-03.

Pool said after the Outback Bowl that he would take a few days to ponder his decision to either return for a final season, granted by the NCAA in light of the covid-19 pandemic, or declare for the NFL Draft.

“I’ve honestly just been thinking nothing but this game,” Pool said last Saturday. “I knew there was a job to be done and then whenever the game is over, sit down with my parents, kind of hear what I should do.”

First-year Arkansas linebackers coach Michael Scherer said in early December he was hopeful for Pool to return.

“We have a good relationship,” Scherer said following Morgan’s win at the Burlsworth Trophy ceremony. “He’s a heck of a player and we can probably make him even a little bit better so we’ll see what happens.”

The transfer decisions by Hornsby and Williams brought Arkansas’ list of known transfers up to 17.

Hornsby, a 6-2, 180-pounder, saw action in six games as the primary backup for KJ Jefferson. He completed 5 of 12 passes for 46 yards and rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown. Hornsby had 67 rushing yards on four carries in the Outback Bowl, easily getting to the edge a few times on the tiring Nittany Lions’ defense in the second half.

Among the potential landing spots for Hornsby is Texas-San Antonio, where former Arkansas tailbacks coach Jeff Traylor is entering his third season with a 19-7 record, including a 12-2 run last year.

Hornsby’s departure, combined with John Stephen Jones’ decision to go through Senior Day festivities this fall, leaves the Arkansas quarterback room with only two scholarship quarterbacks in Jefferson and freshman Lucas Coley. Freshman Landon Rogers converted from quarterback to tight end during the season, and walk-on Kade Renfro suffered a torn knee ligament during bowl practices.

Pittman said in December there was a possibility Rogers could return to the quarterback room if needed.

The Razorbacks did not sign a quarterback in the December signing period but might be in the transfer portal market for one now.


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