Fallout from Arrest of Arkansas Lineman Involving $1700 Theft

Jalen St. John, Arkansas football
photo credit: Nick Wenger

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas offensive lineman Jalen St. John was arrested on a warrant Tuesday night, according to the Washington County Jail website.

The 21-year-old St. Louis native has been charged with a Class D felony for theft of property between $1,000 and $5,000 and, according to the website, was released on bond shortly before noon Wednesday.

Listed as the backup left guard on Arkansas’ depth chart and a special teams contributor, St. John will not travel to Columbia, Mo., for the regular-season finale against Missouri.

“We are aware of the charges against Jalen St. John,” head coach Sam Pittman said in a statement through a UA spokesperson. “He has been suspended indefinitely while we gather more information from the proper authorities. Once we have that information, we will determine his status with our program moving forward.”

According to a copy of the affidavit obtained via a Freedom of Information request, St. John is accused of stealing a cellphone that belonged to a woman he gave a ride home “on or about” March 14, 2021. The phone is valued at $900, plus he allegedly used the CashApp on the phone for two separate charges of $500 and $300, for a grand total of $1,700.

According to the “facts constituting reasonable cause” section of the affidavit, the victim told officers St. John and an unidentified friend also went to her residence after the ride. The three later fell asleep in separate rooms and when the victim woke up, St. John and his friend were gone and her phone was missing. The victim’s roommate used the Life360 app to track her phone and followed it to the Varsity Apartment complex, which is where St. John told her he lived.

While waiting at the complex, the victim saw St. John and confronted him about the missing phone, according to the affidavit. He denied having it and offered for her to search his apartment, but then went back in and closed the door.

The victim later identified St. John in a photo line-up and a detective tracked the CashApp transactions to an account associated with St. John’s phone number and email address. A warrant for his arrest was issued on Sept. 8, 2021.

The 14.5-month delay between the warrant being issued and St. John’s arrest is relatively common for non-violent crimes. Because the stolen amount was less than $5,000, it is considered a Class D felony, which is the lowest tier of felony. An amount below $1,000 would be considered a misdemeanor.

Jalen St. John with the Razorbacks

A four-star recruit out of Trinity Catholic in St. Louis, Jalen St. John was originally committed to Missouri in the Class of 2020. Late in the process, he flipped to the Razorbacks, following the Tigers’ former head coach and offensive line coach — Barry Odom and Brad Davis, respectively — to Fayetteville. St. John was arguably the top signee in Sam Pittman’s first signing class at Arkansas.

Despite being a heralded recruit, St. John has not found steady playing time during his first three seasons with the Razorbacks. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s played just 27 offensive snaps.

Last season, Pittman moved St. John from tackle to guard because he felt his skillset was better suited on the interior of the offensive line. He was expected to push starting guards Brady Latham and Beaux Limmer, but never overtook them.

Following the 2021 season, he entered the transfer portal and was seemingly going to pursue opportunities elsewhere. After all, Pittman told reporters at SEC Media Days that summer that players who went in the portal wouldn’t be welcomed back.

A day after St. John entered, though, Pittman reversed his stance, allowing him to withdraw from the portal and return to the team. He later cited the fact that he didn’t miss any actual practice time with the team as reason for letting him back. It’s unknown whether Pittman was aware of St. John’s warrant at the time.

What it Means for Arkansas Football

So far this season, Jalen St. John’s only playing time on offense came late in the Razorbacks’ blowout win over Auburn. He played six snaps at left guard when Pittman put in the second-team offense.

It’s also worth noting that St. John likely wouldn’t be the offensive lineman who comes off the bench in the event of left guard Brady Latham suffering an injury. If any starter goes down, the Razorbacks would shuffle things around and insert Ty’Kieast Crawford.

The biggest impact St. John has had on this year’s team is on special teams, as he’s a member of the field goal unit. He was also on the field when Arkansas lined up for a fake punt early in the Ole Miss game and actually jumped offsides to prevent the Razorbacks from running the play.

Where this news could potentially mean the most for Arkansas football is with next year’s team. Three of the Razorbacks’ five starters this year are seniors and only one of them — left tackle Luke Jones — is believed to have a high likelihood of returning as a super senior. Right tackle Dalton Wagner is out of eligibility and center Ricky Stromberg is expected to enter the NFL Draft.

That would leave only right guard Beaux Limmer and left guard Brady Latham, both of whom will be fifth-year seniors in 2023. Limmer is a strong candidate to slide over to center and Latham could slide out to left tackle if Jones doesn’t return. That means both guard spots could be up for grabs, with St. John being a contender to fill one.

Depending on how the legal process plays out and what Pittman’s decision is regarding St. John’s status with the program, there could be one less player vying for a spot in the starting lineup next season.

It’s also worth noting that this is the third Arkansas football player arrested in recent weeks. Earlier this month, defensive backs Myles Slusher and Anthony Brown served one-game suspensions following disorderly conduct arrests.

Here is the police body cam footage of the Brown and Slusher arrests:

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