Jadon Haselwood’s Early Departure Gives Preview of Looming Position Battle

Jadon Haselwood, Arkansas football, NFL Draft
photo credit: Nick Wenger

FAYETTEVILLE — Jadon Haselwood has declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, ending his time in the Arkansas football program after just one season.

The former five-star recruit and transfer from Oklahoma technically had two years of eligibility remaining, but has opted to try his hand at the next level after four years in college.

“I joined the University of Arkansas this year and it has turned into one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Haselwood wrote in a statement shared via Twitter. “The amount of growth I’ve experienced here, as both an athlete and as a man, has been tremendous.

“I am Calling all Hogs when I say thank you to my coaches, my teammates and every fan who has made this season special. I also need to personally thank Coach (Kenny) Guiton, Coach Jimmy (Smith) and Coach (Sam) Pittman for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.

“I want to say thank you to my family for their constant support of me in every decision I’ve made throughout my football career. I look forward to everyone’s continued support, as it’s time for me to open up the next chapter in this story.”

It was not a surprising decision, as he had already accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl, but the timing of the announcement likely means Haselwood will not play in the Razorbacks’ upcoming bowl game.

Head coach Sam Pittman previously told reporters that make such an announcement ahead of the bowl means the player won’t travel to the postseason destination.

“If you’re going to go to the draft and you’re not going to play in the bowl, I believe that you need that time to start preparing for the combine and all those things,” Pittman said. “Like (Treylon) Burks, we didn’t him last year. He understood. But if you’re not going to participate because of your choosing, then we don’t take you.”

In his lone season with the Razorbacks, Haselwood — the No. 4 overall recruit in the Class of 2019, according to the 247Sports Composite — had 59 receptions for 702 yards and three touchdowns. That’s 303 yards more and three touchdowns less than his previous career-high single-season totals at Oklahoma last year.

First to Announce NFL Draft Decision

Jadon Haselwood is the first Arkansas player with remaining eligibility to make an announcement regarding the NFL Draft since the end of the regular season.

He was listed as a redshirt junior on the Razorbacks’ roster this season and would have been a traditional fifth-year senior had he chosen to return in 2023. However, the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA in response to the pandemic meant he also could have returned in 2024 if he wanted.

Much like last season, when Treylon Burks declared for the draft and opted out of the Outback Bowl, Haselwood will begin his professional career early.

Several other Razorbacks have similar decisions upcoming, most notably preseason All-American safety Jalen Catalon, who suffered a season-ending injury in the opener. Sam Pittman said he anticipates his announcement to come sooner rather than later.

Others who could return or enter the draft include quarterback KJ Jefferson, linebacker Drew Sanders, center Ricky Stromberg, cornerback Dwight McGlothern, tight end Trey Knox and defensive end Jordan Domineck.

What it Means for Arkansas Football

In the immediate future, head coach Sam Pittman, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and quarterback KJ Jefferson must figure out how to move the ball without one of their top targets in the bowl game.

Jadon Haselwood caught at least three passes in every game and ended the year with a team-high 59 receptions — 15 more than anyone else. That number also ranks eighth on the UA single-season list and fourth in the SEC this year.

He was the Razorbacks’ starting slot receiver and played 72.8 percent of their total offensive snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus. His backup in the slot was Bryce Stephens, but he played just 154 offensive snaps compared to Haselwood’s 658.

The other player who could benefit from Haselwood not playing in the bowl game is freshman Isaiah Sategna. He is eligible to play in the bowl without burning his redshirt and Pittman has indicated they’d like to get him more involved during the practices leading up to the game.

While it is a significant blow to this year’s offense, it could serve as sort of a preview for next season because Stephens and Sategna are expected to battle it out for the starting slot receiver job. Instead of waiting for spring ball for that battle to start, the vying can begin in bowl practices.

It’s also worth noting that as of now, senior Matt Landers — who leads the team with 780 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns — is still available to play in the bowl game, plus Ketron Jackson Jr. is just a sophomore and will presumably return next season.

That means it won’t be quite like last year when Treylon Burks was the only real threat in the passing game and it was closer to non-existent without him.


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