Portal Decision Helps Arkansas Clear up Logjam at Key Position

AJ Green, Arkansas football, transfer portal
photo credit: Nick Wenger

Another key offensive player is leaving the Arkansas football program, as AJ Green announced he’ll use the transfer portal to finish his career elsewhere.

The running back from Tulsa spent three years with the Razorbacks and rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a primary backup during his time in Fayetteville.

He is the second player from Arkansas’ two-deep offensive depth chart to hit the transfer portal on the first day it was open to all players, joining left tackle Devon Manuel. Defensive tackle Taurean Carter also announced his decision to pursue opportunities for his super senior season via the transfer portal on Monday.

The Razorbacks are up to eight players total in the transfer portal, as those three players joined five other previously known departures: defensive back Jaylen Lewis, wide receiver Sam Mbake and a trio of linebackers — Chris “Pooh” Paul Jr., Jordan Crook and Mani Powell.

AJ Green with the Razorbacks

Coming out of Oklahoma powerhouse Tulsa Union, AJ Green had a long list of suitors that included the likes of Baylor, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and several others.

Rather than stay in his home state, he chose to head east and play for the Razorbacks, immediately becoming one of their biggest recruiting coups in the Sooner State in quite some time. Not only was he a four-star recruit, but 247Sports tabbed him as the 114th-best overall recruit in the 2021 class.

Green was known for his legit speed, but that meant he wouldn’t enroll early because he competed for his high school track team. His late arrival led to him being behind the likes of Trelon Smith and Rocket Sanders when the season began.

Despite facing that uphill battle, Green still made an immediate impact as a true freshman. He scored on a 30-yard run in the blowout win over Texas and then had a 48-yard catch and run for a score against Texas A&M a couple weeks later.

He ended his freshman year with 227 yards on 47 carries and another 84 yards on seven receptions in limited playing, but was primed for a heavier workload in 2022.

In fact, many people viewed the Razorbacks’ backfield as a 1-2 punch with Green and Sanders. However, Sanders’ emergence as one of the best running backs in the country meant he was relegated to backup duty. That still meant racking up 414 yards and three touchdowns on 87 carries, though.

With Sanders battling injuries, the 2023 campaign likely should have been his breakout year, but Arkansas’ offensive line struggled to open up holes for anyone. He had solid games against Kent State (82 yards) and BYU (86 yards), but his playing time dwindled as the season progressed.

Green ended his career with Arkansas football just 47 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark, finishing with 953 yards and six touchdowns on 201 carries for a 4.7-yard average. He added another 184 yards and two touchdowns on 19 receptions and was also a kickoff returner his first two years, averaging 16.1 yards on 17 returns.

What it Means for Arkansas Football

If the lack of playing time down the stretch and falling behind Rashod Dubinion on the depth chart wasn’t enough of a signal that AJ Green was likely headed to the transfer portal, just look at next year’s projected roster.

The Razorbacks’ loaded running back room this year didn’t include a single player who exhausted his eligibility this season. All five of them — Dominique Johnson, Green, Rocket Sanders, Dubinion and Isaiah Augustave — could technically return next season.

They’re also adding two four-star running backs, with in-state standout Braylen Russell and Georgia product Jadan Baugh committed in the 2024 class. That would put Arkansas at seven scholarship running backs next season, which is way more than any FBS team would carry given the 85-man limit.

Even if Sanders declares for the NFL Draft, which many believe he will do, that’d still leave the Razorbacks with six running backs. Someone was going to have to leave to make room for the newcomers and Green made the most sense.

He stuck around three years, which is probably longer than most highly touted running backs in today’s environment, and is now going to get a chance to go somewhere carries might be easier to come by.

Plus, head coach Sam Pittman has been very high on Dubinion since he stepped on campus two offseasons ago and he’s flashed some potential the last two years. Then there’s Augustave, who ended the year with a 101-yard game against FIU and 80-yard performance against Missouri.

It was a very small sample size, but he showed enough in those two games to make the coaches confident he could compete with Dubinion for the starting job — and who knows how the freshman look when they enter the mix.

While it may be disappointing to see a player as talented as Green leave, his departure clears up a logjam at running back and allows the Razorbacks to focus on the younger guys in a talented and deep group.

Projected 2024 RB Room

Here’s a quick look at how the Razorbacks’ running back room is shaping up for next season in light of AJ Green’s departure…

^2024 commit

  • Dominique Johnson — redshirt senior
  • Rocket Sanders — senior (could declare for NFL Draft)
  • Rashod Dubinion — junior
  • Isaiah Augustave — sophomore
  • ^Jadan Baugh — freshman
  • ^Braylen Russell — freshman
  • *Jezreel Bachert — redshirt sophomore
  • *Emmanuel Crawford — redshirt freshman

Arkansas Football Players in the Transfer Portal

Here’s a list of Arkansas football players currently in the transfer portal, ordered alphabetically… 

  • DT Taurean Carter
  • LB Jordan Crook
  • RB AJ Green
  • DB Jaylen Lewis
  • OL Devon Manuel
  • WR Sam Mbake
  • LB Chris “Pooh” Paul Jr.
  • LB Mani Powell


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