Latest, Shiniest Jaheim Thomas Replacement Candidate Comes with Warning Label

Jaheim Thomas, Scooby Williams, Arkansas football, transfer portal
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics / Florida Athletics

The calendar has flipped to 2024 and the latest transfer portal window will officially close on Jan. 2. Arkansas football already has eight commitments, highlighted by former Georgia linebacker Xavian Sorey Jr.

He is arguably the biggest get for the Razorbacks thus far considering all that has recently happened to the linebacker room. The former five-star was certainly a massive score, but with leading tackler Jaheim Thomas announcing his departure on Saturday, it is likely the staff has made the position a high priority with four scholarship players gone.

The news of another noteworthy linebacker hitting the portal dropped Sunday, but, as you’ll see below, a glaring negative there is cause for concern. 

Keyshawn Blackstock was the first in the 2024 portal class to commit on Nov. 20 and Arkansas has since added two more along the offensive trenches, as well as likely replacements at quarterback and kicker. 

Doneiko Slaughter, a Tennessee transfer, was a crucial pickup at defensive back and there is a chance more could be on the way as a pair of Sun Belt players who competed alongside each other in the same secondary will be on campus this week.

Here are 12 of the latest names to watch with time winding down in the current portal cycle. 

Potential Transfer Portal Targets

Elijah Alston | Marshall | DL | 6-2, 260 |  R-SR 

After dropping off some in 2022, Alston put together his best season in a Marshall uniform this fall, totaling 45 tackles, including 23 solo and 11.5 for loss with 6 sacks, to go with two forced fumbles. Alston also displayed his athletic ability against Old Dominion on Sept. 30, returning an interception 85 yards for a touchdown. 

During his four-year career with the Thundering Herd, the Chesapeake, Va., native logged 107 total tackles, including 36 solo with 19.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Jordan Anthony | Texas A&M | WR | 5-10, 160 | JR 

It was confirmed by HawgBeat that Anthony does plan to take a visit to Fayetteville during the Jan. 3-7 window. The speedster has played in the SEC both at Kentucky and, most recently, Texas A&M. He was the 51st-ranked wide receiver coming out of Tylertown, Miss., in 2022 as a four-star prospect.

Anthony appeared in four games for Texas A&M in 2023, hauling in three catches for 14 yards, all of which came against Louisiana-Monroe. His offensive coordinator with the Aggies was Bobby Petrino, the current Arkansas OC.

Joshua Celiscar | UCF | DL | 6-4, 295 | SR

While his overall career at Central Florida was impressive with over 155 tackles, including 24.5 for loss, a fresh start under a familiar coach may be just what the doctor ordered for Celiscar to take an even bigger step forward. That’s especially true when his latest productive season in 2022 was when he played under current Arkansas defensive coordinator Travis Williams, who led UCF’s defense during the 2021-22 seasons. With some questions surrounding whether or not players want to play for this Arkansas staff, a signature from Celiscar would put some of that to rest. 

In 2022, Celiscar logged 53 total tackles, including 32 solo with 8.5 for loss and 3 sacks, as well as three forced fumbles. Celiscar finished this season with 47 tackles, 26 of those solo.

UPDATE: It looks like things have cooled on this front. In a message to Best of Arkansas Sports, Celiscar confirmed Arkansas football coaches contacted him but “they stopped reaching out.”

Jaydon Hill | Florida | DB | 6-0, 195 | R-SR

Not only would Hill provide quality competition in the secondary, it also makes sense because Deron Wilson, current Arkansas secondary coach, was at Florida in 2022 as quality control analyst when Hill tied for the team lead in interceptions that season.

Hill started 20 games over the past two seasons for the Gators and statistically had his best year in 2023, totaling 39 tackles, 25 of them solo, with three pass deflections and two sacks.

Ja’Quinden Jackson | Utah | RB | 6-2, 230 | JR

Coming out of Texas powerhouse Duncanville in the 2020 class, Jackson was rated as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports and initially began his collegiate career with the Longhorns. He transferred to Utah after one year in Austin and appeared in 16 games between 2021-22 at both quarterback and running back before moving to running back full-time this year. 

Jackson started 11 games in 2023 and led the Utes in rushing with 797 yards on 161 carries as well as four touchdowns. He also hauled in nine catches for 53 yards and was offered by Arkansas in high school.

Anton Juncaj | Albany | DL | 6-3, 275 | SR 

Naturally, Juncaj draws some comparisons to John Ridgeway – an eventual fifth-round NFL Draft pick whom the Razorbacks plucked from the FCS ranks – due to the fact Juncaj himself is coming off of a dominant 2023 campaign at that same level. 

Juncaj helped Albany reach the FCS semifinals while the defensive unit finished second in the nation for sacks. Individually, Juncaj was top five nationally in both tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (15) while logging 55 total tackles, 34 solo, 12 QB hurries, 3 pass deflections and forced 5 fumbles. 

Percy Lewis | Mississippi State | OL | 6-8, 350 | SR

Arkansas got some great news on Saturday when On3 reported that the Hogs made Lewis’ top eight along with Auburn, Cal, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Memphis and South Carolina. 

After coming to Mississippi State as the top-rated JUCO offensive tackle in 2022, Lewis played in 25 games for the Bulldogs over the past two seasons that included eight starts. Per Pro Football Focus, Lewis graded out at 66.6 for the 2023 season. 

Micah Mazzccua | Florida | OL | 6-5, 325 | SR

With one year of eligibility remaining, Mazzccua is on the hunt for the third team in his collegiate career after starting 11 games for Florida this year, where he graded out at 67.4 per PFF. That followed a stint at Baylor for two seasons where he played under current Arkansas offensive line coach Eric Mateos. During the 2022 campaign with the Bears, Mazzccua finished with a grade of 74.9. 

For what it’s worth, there was a X (formerly Twitter) exchange between current Hogs defensive back Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson and Mazzccua, who were teammates at Baylor…

Marquise “Cuddie” Robinson | South Alabama | DB | 6-1, 185 | SR 

With an Arkansas offer already extended, Robinson will make his way to Fayetteville for a visit on Wednesday. He is coming off a stint at South Alabama, where he played for former Razorback Kane Wommack. Speaking of South Alabama coaches, one who recently worked under Wommack with Razorback ties has been discussed as possibly returning to Fayetteville. 

Robinson and the Jags just capped their season with a bang, thumping Eastern Michigan 59-10 in the 68 Venture’s Bowl on Dec. 23. The Crosby, Miss., native compiled 63 total tackles, including 36 solo, with five pass deflections and three interceptions in two seasons with the Jaguars. 

Myles Rowser | DB | 6-1, 195 | JR 

Assuming all personal relationships are in good standing, this one almost makes too much sense. He was initially committed to Sam Pittman and the Hogs as the 33rd-best safety in the 2022 class per 247Sports, but Arkansas pulled the offer not long after he was listed as a possible suspect in a carjacking ring.

Regardless of what happened there, he’s been living up to his recruiting hype at the college level.  

The Detroit native had a big season for New Mexico State, totaling 70 tackles, including 43 solo, with 2 pass deflections and a 31-yard interception return, as well as forcing a fumble. That followed a breakout freshman year at FCS Campbell, where he was tabbed to multiple All-American teams after recording 44 tackles, including 33 solo, with three pass deflections, recovered a fumble and nabbed an interception. 

Scooby Williams | LB | 6-2, 230 | JR

The Florida transfer was the point of reference in the beginning as the noteworthy linebacker to put his name in the portal on Sunday. While the former top-75 overall prospect coming out of high school in 2021 would bring three years of SEC experience to The Hill, it was also noted that he is tied to a not-so-comforting stat.

The Birmingham, Ala., native finished the season with a 42.1 PFF grade on 455 snaps, the lowest grade amongst all Gator contributors. This fact, along with polarizing opinions around regression late in the 2023, have been heavily discussed on a Florida football message board. Furthermore, of the 28 SEC linebackers who played over 400 snaps in 2023, Williams’ grade ranked second-to-last at 27th, ahead of only Auburn’s Larry Nixon (41.4). 

Williams played in 25 games over the past three seasons for Florida, logging 70 total tackles, including 35 solo and 4 for loss, a sack and forced two fumbles. In Florida’s 39-36 overtime loss to Arkansas, Williams logged 8 total tackles, tied for first to lead the Gators, and forced a fumble.

Jaden Voisin | DB | 6-0, 205 | R-SR

Along with aforementioned South Alabama secondary mate Cuddie Robinson and Texas A&M transfer wide receiver Jordan Anthony, Voisin will visit Arkansas on Jan. 5, per HawgBeat.  

Voisin did not get a lot of playing time during his first three seasons in Mobile, but led the Jaguars in total tackles in 2022 and finished fourth this season, first among defensive backs. In the past two years, Voisin collected 146 total stops, 79 of them solo, forced three fumbles and intercepted six passes.

Arkansas Football Transfer Signees

  • OL Keyshawn Blackstock – Michigan State
  • TE Andreas Paaske – Eastern Michigan
  • QB Taylen Green – Boise State
  • DB Doneiko Slaughter – Tennessee
  • OL Fernando Carmona – San Jose State
  • K Matthew Shipley – Hawaii
  • OL Addison Nichols – Tennessee
  • LB Xavian Sorey Jr. – Georgia

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More coverage of Arkansas football and the transfer portal from BoAS…

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