James Jointer’s Departure Shows (Again) Hogs’ Stacked Backfield an Issue for More than Just Foes

James Jointer Jr., Arkansas football, transfer portal
photo credit: Nick Wenger

FAYETTEVILLE — Reserve running back James Jointer Jr. is the latest player to leave the Arkansas football program, announcing his intention to enter the transfer portal Monday.

The freshman from Little Rock appeared in only one of the Razorbacks’ 11 games so far this season, so he’ll retain his redshirt status and have four years of eligibility remaining at his next school.

“It was a childhood dream of mine to be an Arkansas Razorback,” Jointer wrote in a statement shared to Twitter. “I’m blessed that I’ve been able to live that out & for that, I will forever be grateful.

“My time at the University of Arkansas will be with me forever & the state of Arkansas will forever have a special place in my heart. Thank you to everyone who has supported me.

“After careful consideration & prayer, I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal.”

Jointer’s lone appearance came late in the blowout win at Auburn. He played five total snaps and had three carries for 9 yards.

His departure isn’t a huge surprise considering his position on the depth chart, but Pittman said Jointer did not discuss his decision with him or running backs coach Jimmy Smith prior to announcing it Monday.

“I have not (talked to him),” Pittman said in his weekly press conference, which started less than 15 minutes after Jointer’s announcement. “Jimmy just walked in my office right before we came over here and showed me the tweet, so I have not had a chance to talk with him nor did he come in to talk to me.”

Although he said he plans to enter the portal, Jointer is not in it yet because it is currently closed to those who have not graduated or experienced a coaching change. The next window is set to open Dec. 5.

There is expected to be a rush of players entering the portal across college football when that date comes and Arkansas is no different. In fact, Pittman told reporters to get ready for a surge in roster news beginning a week earlier than that, as he starts exit meetings with players next Monday.

“That’ll be a blow-up day, now,” Pittman said. “There’s going to be a lot of action going on — and it’s not just here. It’s everywhere in the country.”

What it Means for Arkansas Football

When the Arkansas football season got underway back in September, six scholarship running backs were on the roster and going through practice.

Dominique Johnson was still working his way back from a torn ACL early in the season, but was part of a pretty clear top four that also featured Rocket Sanders, AJ Green and Rashod Dubinion.

That group got the bulk of the reps with the first- and second-team offense at practice and were all on the travel roster when the Razorbacks hit the road for Arlington and their showdown with Texas A&M.

As a less-heralded true freshman than Dubinion, James Jointer Jr. was relegated to scout team duties along with redshirt freshman Javion Hunt.

However, Hunt left the team back in September and Johnson re-tore his ACL in October, opening the door for Jointer to crack the 70-man travel roster for the Auburn game. With the Razorbacks up 38-20 and only about 5 minutes left, he was part of the wholesale substitutions Pittman made on offense and rushed for 4, 1 and 4 yards on his three carries.

Despite moving up the depth chart, Jointer was still behind a pair of established sophomores — Sanders and Green — and the other signee in his freshman class, four-star recruit Rashod Dubinion. All three of those players are set to return in 2023, not to mention Johnson would be a fourth-year junior, as well.

That doesn’t even factor in the addition of 2023 commitment Isaiah Augustave, a top-200 recruit from Naples, Fla.

Barring a position change or a slew of injuries, playing time was going to be hard to come by for Jointer, so the Little Rock Parkview product decided to look elsewhere to continue his college career.

A similar situation unfolded last year when Josh Oglesby, the track sprinter-turned-running back, decided to enter the portal late in the season because he was buried under essentially the same depth chart. Even Trelon Smith, who led the running backs in rushing last season, opted to use his super senior year by transferring to UTSA following the season because of the depth in the room.

Other Departures

James Jointer Jr. is believed to be the fifth scholarship player to leave the Arkansas football program since August.

Wide receiver Jaquayln Crawford and defensive tackle Taylor Lewis announced they were entering the transfer portal during fall camp. Both players were buried on the depth chart at the time and didn’t have a clear path to playing time, similar to Jointer.

As mentioned above, running back Javion Hunt — another reserve buried on the depth chart — left the team a few weeks into the season and plans to enter the portal when it opens up, per a UA spokesperson.

More recently, wide receiver Warren Thompson became the most significant departure. Having started five of the first 10 games of the season, he left the team following he LSU game and Pittman didn’t elaborate on his decision beyond, “He quit the team.” It’s unclear if he’ll enter the portal to pursue his super senior season elsewhere.

It’s also worth noting that tight end Dax Courtney, another true freshman, had to medically retire because of injuries just before the start of fall camp.

That means three members – Jointer, Courtney and Lewis – of the Razorbacks’ 21-man signing class for 2022 are no longer on the team with one game remaining in what would have been their first season in the program.

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