Arkansas’ Bread & Butter Position Takes Hit with Latest Portal Entry

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

FAYETTEVILLE — Suspended offensive lineman Jalen St John entered the transfer portal Monday night, becoming the latest departure from the Arkansas football team.

The redshirt sophomore from St. Louis had been serving an indefinite suspension stemming from a felony theft arrest since the week of the Missouri game.

When asked about his status with the program last Friday, head coach Sam Pittman told reporters that he was “still suspended indefinitely” and did not elaborate on his future with the program.

Just a few days later, it’s now clear that he will no longer play for the Razorbacks, who have now had 20 scholarship players enter the transfer portal since fall camp in August.

Included in that number are both players who entered the portal last offseason and allowed to return to the team. St. John was the first of those guys and was followed by quarterback Malik Hornsby.

A trio of Razorbacks — wide receiver Jadon Haselwood, center Ricky Stromberg and linebacker Drew Sanders — have declared for the NFL Draft and several others, most notably linebacker Bumper Pool, are out with injuries. All told, Arkansas is down to roughly 56 available scholarship players for next week’s Liberty Bowl against Kansas.

Jalen St John’s status with the Arkansas football program has been up in the air since news first broke that he had been arrested on a warrant on Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving and two days before the Razorbacks’ regular-season finale at Missouri.

St. John, 21, was charged with a Class D felony for theft.

“We are aware of the charges against Jalen St John,” head coach Sam Pittman said in a statement through a UA spokesperson at the time. “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 could not find 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

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

Even though he was listed as the second-team left guard on the depth chart throughout the season, St. John would not have come off the bench in the event of left guard Brady Latham suffering an injury. Any time a starter went down, Ty’Kieast Crawford went in and the Razorbacks shuffled things around as needed.

The biggest impact St. John had on this year’s team was on special teams as 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. The Razorbacks are having to replace three of their five starting offensive linemen because right tackle Dalton Wagner is out of eligibility, center Ricky Stromberg has declared for the NFL Draft and left tackle Luke Jones will not use his extra year.

That leaves only right guard Beaux Limmer and Latham, both of whom will be fifth-year seniors in 2023. Limmer has already slid over to center to replace Stromberg and Latham will likely get a shot to replace Jones at left tackle because he’s already played some snaps at the position.

In that scenario, both guard spots would be up for grabs and St. John would have been a contender to fill one. Instead, the Razorbacks will turn to newer names for those positions. They landed former four-star recruit Josh Braun as a transfer from Florida, plus they are high on current true freshmen E’Marion Harris and Patrick Kutas at the guard spots.

Arkansas Football Players in the Transfer Portal

The Arkansas football team is up to 20 scholarship players in the transfer portal after Jalen St. John entered Monday night…

  • QB Malik Hornsby
  • RB Javion Hunt
  • RB James Jointer Jr.
  • TE Erin Outley
  • TE Trey Knox
  • WR Jaquayln Crawford
  • WR Warren Thompson
  • WR Ketron Jackson Jr.
  • OL Jalen St. John
  • DE Eric Thomas Jr.
  • DT Taylor Lewis
  • DT Isaiah Nichols
  • DB Jalen Catalon
  • DB Myles Slusher
  • DB Khari Johnson
  • DB Keuan Parker
  • DB Jacorrei Turner
  • DB Zach Zimos
  • DB Chase Lowery
  • P Reid Bauer


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