'I feel for him': Catalon will miss the rest of 2022 season with injury

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, September 10, 2022
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)
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 miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury that will require surgery. 

Catalon, a Freshman All-American in 2020 and a first-team preseason All-SEC pick by coaches this year, suffered his second season-ending shoulder injury in as many years. He missed the final seven season games in 2021 when he required shoulder surgery following an early-October game against Ole Miss.

Catalon also played two games last season with a broken hand. 

"I feel for him," Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. "We’ve had conversations about it. I’m going to let him be away from the building a little bit. He’s down. You would be, too. You put in all that work and for two years you’re not able to play."

Pittman said Catalon will have “reconstruction” surgery on his shoulder. It is unclear whether Catalon’s latest injury is to the same shoulder he injured last season. 

With Catalon out, defensive back Simeon Blair was named a team captain, Pittman said, because Blair was the next-highest defensive vote getter during captain voting. Catalon was voted team captain during the preseason. 

"The team was ecstatic about that," Pittman said. "I had also talked to Cat about that, and Cat had also talked to me about...since he wasn't going to be able to come back this year that it would be nice for Blair to be able to be a captain, and it just happened that he was the next-highest vote getter." 

Nickel back Myles Slusher did not play during the Razorbacks’ 44-30 victory over South Carolina on Saturday, but Pittman said Slusher should return for Arkansas’ game against Missouri State next week. Slusher suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury during the first quarter of the Razorbacks’ season-opening victory over Cincinnati last week. 

"He was close to getting back this week, but we just felt like it would be safer for him to come back next week," Pittman said. "I have no doubt he’ll be back next week."

Pittman said the secondary played well at times and not well at others without Catalon and Slusher on Saturday. The Razorbacks allowed 411 yards, including 371 passing yards during the South Carolina game. 

Jayden Johnson and Latavious Brini started in place of Catalon and Slusher. 

"We covered well at times and then we covered poorly at times," Pittman said. "We've got to become more consistent. I think we can do that, but with the first week, losing two of your top defenders and coming out with a win like that...I thought it was good. They played Arkansas football.

"Do we need to get better? Yes. Do we need to get Slusher back? Yes. There's a lot of things going on, but I thought they played well for their first time." 

Before the game, Pittman told the team not to worry about the players who were unable to play.

"I'm very sympathetic for both injuries," Pittman said, "but you go out there on Saturday...you're going to play the game. Slush and Cat get it, too, and Taurean Carter — whoever you don't have out there. 

"At that time it's about the ones who are out there, and they fought their tails off, I thought." 

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