Impact of Hogs’ Once-Fastest Receiver Entering the Transfer Portal

What Jaquayln Crawford's Decision Means for Arkansas

Jaquayln Crawford, Arkansas football
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

The first Arkansas football transfer of 2022-23 came on the final day of fall camp, as Jaquayln Crawford appeared in the portal Saturday, according to multiple reports.

Crawford is a wide receiver who began his career at Oklahoma and spent the last two seasons with the Razorbacks. He will now look for a third school to wrap up his playing days in college.

Rated as a four-star prospect and top-200 recruit coming out of Rockdale, Texas, in the Class of 2018, Crawford was known for his speed as a state champion sprinter and was considered an athlete by recruiting services.

With the Sooners, he started as a wide receiver before moving to corner in his second season in Norman, Okla. Rather than stay on that side of the ball, Crawford opted to hit the portal.

He landed in Fayetteville as one of Sam Pittman’s first transfer additions as Arkansas’ head coach. At the time, transfers were still required to sit out a year. That meant he couldn’t play in 2020, but the NCAA made a rule change late in the season that made him eligible for the bowl game. He was set to have a role in the Texas Bowl before it was canceled because of COVID-19 issues within TCU’s program.

Unfortunately for Crawford, that was likely his best chance to make an impact for the Razorbacks. The following year, he opened the season as a minor contributor, but quickly fell out of the rotation and finished with just three receptions for 27 yards.

Any chance of him contributing this season was likely dashed when he suffered a broken leg in a car accident during spring ball. That also likely contributed to him sticking around over the summer, as he had somewhere to rehab. Crawford managed to get back on the field in camp, but was buried on the depth chart.

Impact on the Razorbacks’ WR Room

One of the reasons Jaquayln Crawford made sense as a transfer addition was because he brought a different dimension to the Arkansas football team. He added speed to the wide receiver room that wasn’t previously there.

Since then, though, the Razorbacks have added several other receivers with elite speed. In fact, when Ketron Jackson Jr. was asked to identify the fastest guys in the room earlier this month, he listed Isaiah Sategna, Bryce Stephens and Matt Landers.

On top of no longer being among the three fastest receivers, Crawford was also the smallest guy in the room. Listed at 5-foot-10, he is an inch shorter than Sategna and two inches shorter than Stephens, the next two shortest scholarship wide receivers.

Arkansas has made a concerted effort to get bigger at the position, with eight of the 10 scholarship receivers listed as 6-foot-2 or taller.

Unsurprisingly, Crawford slipped down the depth chart at slot receiver. Another Oklahoma transfer, Jadon Haselwood, has had a productive fall and is in position to start, with the young speedsters — Stephens and Sategna — fighting for the No. 2 spot.

The Razorbacks will only travel with seven or eight wide receivers and Crawford likely wasn’t going to make that cut, so his decision doesn’t have too much of an impact on the room. However, he could have been a good special teams or scout team player for Arkansas football.

Another Open Scholarship for Arkansas Football

Perhaps the biggest impact of Jaquayln Crawford’s departure is on the Razorbacks’ 85-man scholarship limit. They already had two spots open after Dax Courtney’s medical retirement, so they now have three.

Arkansas will eventually need to get to 85 because schools are required to fill all of their scholarships in order to bring in early enrollees.

However, exactly when the Razorbacks have to reach that number is a bit murkier. Last season, it wasn’t until well after the season that they awarded a handful of scholarships to walk-ons, with two of them — to wide receiver Harper Cole and linebacker Jackson Woodard — being retroactive for the 2021 season. Tight end Nathan Bax’s scholarship counts toward the 2022 season.

Those two would presumably be candidates to get scholarships again this year, especially Woodard because he is expected to have a significant role on this year’s defense. Quarterbacks Kade Renfro and Cade Fortin would be logical candidates, as well, considering they were on scholarship at their previous schools.

There’s also the possibility of a late addition from the transfer portal. Arkansas has already filled its 2022 class, but it has been able to oversign in the past and count those players ahead to the next class. If that is still an option, it’d work out well for the Razorbacks because the annual 25-man signing limit has been eliminated beginning with the 2023 class.

That rule will probably benefit Crawford, too, as a school would be able to sign him from the portal as long as it has available spots in its overall 85 without having to worry about burning one of its 25 for that particular class, which was previously a consideration for schools when signing transfers.

Pittman could choose to use the scholarships before the season or hold them like he did last year, but one thing is certain: He won’t make a big deal about rewarding walk-ons if/when he does. While some schools like to create viral social media content out of those moments, Pittman’s philosophy is to bring players into his office and tell them privately because he doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of other walk-ons on the team.

Check out what Sam Pittman had to say after the Razorbacks’ scrimmage Saturday:

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