This weekend yielded a pair of commitments out of the transfer portal for Arkansas football.
Just a day after former North Carolina quarterback Jacolby Criswell went public with his decision, former Texas A&M-Commerce wide receiver Andrew Armstrong — one of the top portal prospects from the FCS ranks — committed to the Razorbacks.
His announcement, which he made via Twitter, came just a few hours after he completed an official visit to Fayetteville. It was scheduled to be the first of two visits by Armstrong, but he canceled his planned trip to Missouri for this coming weekend.
“The visit was good,” Armstrong said. “I just felt very at home here. I liked the campus, I like the facilities, everything around Arkansas and Fayetteville. It showed why it’s a top-four place to live. I just liked everything about the visit.”
The Razorbacks have now landed three transfers since the end of the regular season. In addition to Criswell and Armstrong, they gained a commitment from former Florida offensive lineman Josh Braun a week earlier.
Armstrong was here for only a couple days, but he still described the Arkansas fan base as “amazing and crazy,” plus it sounds as though his relationship with wide receivers coach Kenny Guiton played a key role in getting him to Arkansas.
“He’s like my old coach at my old school,” Armstrong said. “I can talk to him like a friend. He’s like my age [Guitan is 31], so I can relate to him a lot. I can relate to Coach G a lot, he’s like a brother to me. I just felt that connection when I first spoke to him.”
Andrew Armstrong at Texas A&M-Commerce
Originally from Dallas, Armstrong played his high school ball at Bishop Dunne, where he was a teammate of Brian Williams, the younger brother of former Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams III.
Armstrong was a two-star recruit on Rivals and unrated on 247Sports in the 2019 class, leading to him signing with Texas A&M-Commerce — a Division II program at the time. He redshirted his first year in college and then the DII season was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Although he caught only 15 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns his third year in college, almost all of that came in the final five games of the season. That set the stage for a breakout campaign in the Lions’ first year at the FCS level.
In 11 games, the listed 6-foot-6, 189-pound receiver had six 100-yard performances and finished with 62 receptions for 1,020 yards and 13 touchdowns. That helped him earn FCS Sophomore All-American honors from HERO Sports.
It was just the fifth 1,000-yard season in Texas A&M-Commerce history and, when he decided to enter the transfer portal, caught the attention of numerous Power Five programs across the country.
Arkansas and Missouri were two of 17 FBS schools that pursued him, including Colorado, Miami (Fla.), Syracuse, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Wisconsin and others.
Check out some highlights of Andrew Armstrong in action (story continues below):
What it Means for Arkansas Football
The Razorbacks must replace their top four wide receivers next season, as Matt Landers is out of eligibility, Jadon Haselwood is entering the NFL Draft and Ketron Jackson Jr. and Warren Thompson have entered the transfer portal.
That quartet combined for 131 receptions, 1,937 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, which is well over 90% of Arkansas’ production from wide receivers.
Bryce Stephens, Jaedon Wilson and Isaiah Sategna were set to be the only wide receivers on the 2023 Arkansas football roster that have caught passes at the collegiate level, so there was certainly a need to add some from the portal — which the Razorbacks did with great success last cycle with Haselwood (Oklahoma) and Landers (Toledo/Georgia).
“I mean, being able to come in and help the team (is important),” Armstrong said. “They brought in two transfers last year that are now going to the draft and they lost another one, so it puts more on me wanting to come here.”
Plus, at his size — listed at 6-foot-6, 189 pounds — Armstrong is seemingly a solid replacement for the 6-foot-5, 197-pound Landers.
He would presumably line up on the outside, which would give the Razorbacks a veteran presence to go along with the inexperienced guys like Wilson and Sam Mbake. There’s also the possibility of Quincey McAdoo moving back to wide receiver after converting to cornerback midway through the season. (Stephens and Sategna will likely battle it out in the slot.)
There’s a chance Armstrong could be a multi-year guy, as well, because he could technically return to school as a super senior in 2024.
“I came to Arkansas to win,” Armstrong said. “I came to Arkansas just because the coaches make me feel like it’s home. I’m all the way in Dallas, so that’s like 5 hours (away) or something like that. It feels like home being here.”
Arkansas Probably Not Done
Two transfers — Jadon Haselwood and Matt Landers — were the Razorbacks’ two leading receivers in 2022 and that could be the case again in 2023.
Even with Andrew Armstrong in hand, Arkansas would probably like to add at least another wide receiver from the transfer portal before next season.
The most obvious option is Arland Bruce IV, a former four-star recruit who spent the last two years at Iowa, because he was also in town for an official visit this weekend.
“(I’ve) been hanging out with Coach Pittman and all the coaches, getting a feel for Fayetteville for the first time, but it’s been awesome and great hospitality,” Bruce said about his visit. “It’s a lot warmer than I’m used to too. I got off the plane with a coat and I was instantly sweating when I got in the car.”
However, he returned home — he’s originally from the Kansas City area and played his senior season at Ankeny High in Iowa — without committing and is planning to visit Mississippi State next weekend.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 198 pounds and blessed with speed, Bruce is more of a slot receiver type and was utilized on jet sweeps with the Hawkeyes. Arkansas pitched the idea of using him in a similar way during his visit.
Other wide receivers in the transfer portal who the Razorbacks are known to have offered include Dorian Singer from Arizona and Rara Thomas from Mississippi State. They could potentially be on even more, as many at the position are seeking new schools.
More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS…