As it has been widely speculated for some time, KJ Jefferson has decided to leave the Arkansas football program and enter the transfer portal, he announced Saturday.
The Razorbacks’ all-time leader in multiple categories, Jefferson started 38 games during his five seasons in Fayetteville and will now look to use his final year of eligibility elsewhere.
He shared one final message to Arkansas fans via Instagram:
“It has been a dream to be captain and QB1 at the University of Arkansas,” Jefferson wrote. “Accomplishing those records and being mentioned amongst the great QBs in Razorback history was an honor, but the memories and friendships I’ve made with my coaches and teammates along the way are what I’ll cherish the most.
“To the fans, I can’t express my gratitude enough for all of the support I’ve received from this great state. I hope you’re enjoyed watching me grow as a man and a player as much as I’ve enjoyed representing this state and university. You accepted me as one of your own, and for that, I’m forever grateful and in your debt.”
It’s not a particularly surprising decision, as he had posted a selfie with “Last One” on his Instagram story the morning of the Missouri game and Pittman danced around a question about Jefferson’s future the last time he met with the media.
“KJ’s given to the university good years and lot of records and things of that nature,” Pittman said on Nov. 30. “Whatever he wants to do, we’ll be supportive of it.”
Jefferson has already finished his degree at Arkansas, so he’ll be a graduate transfer and sixth-year super senior in 2024.
The Razorbacks have now seen 14 scholarship players hit the transfer portal this cycle, with Jefferson joining other high-profile players like running back Rocket Sanders and linebacker Chris “Pooh” Paul Jr. A full list of departures can be found below.
KJ Jefferson with the Razorbacks
A member of the Razorbacks’ heralded 2019 signing class, KJ Jefferson was a raw, but talented prospect coming out of a small school in Sardis, Miss. He was tabbed a four-star recruit by all of the major services while at North Panola High School and reported offers from the likes of Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and several others.
He ultimately chose to play for Chad Morris at Arkansas and even started one game as a true freshman. That lone start just so happened to come in the first game after Morris’ firing at on the road against No. 1 LSU.
It didn’t go particularly well for Jefferson in that game, but he made the most of his second opportunity, which came against Missouri in Sam Pittman’s first season. Starting for an injured Feleipe Franks, he threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran for another.
That included a touchdown and two-point conversion that gave the Razorbacks the lead with only 43 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for Arkansas, that was enough time for Missouri to answer with a game-winning field goal.
Despite that game ending in a loss, Jefferson proved to Pittman that he was capable of being the starter. What followed was a record-breaking career.
As a three-year starter, Jefferson broke the UA career records for passing yards (7,911), passing touchdowns (67), total yards (9,787) and total touchdowns (88). He did all of that while completing 65.1% of his passes and throwing only 18 interceptions.
He led the Razorbacks to a 9-4 record and Outback Bowl win in 2021 and was also 7-4 as the starter in 2022, missing a pair of games because of an injury. He also clearly wasn’t himself in a loss to Liberty, when he played despite not being healthy.
Offensive coordinator Dan Enos took over for Kendal Briles last offseason, though, and the change clearly hurt Arkansas’ offense. Despite the unit sputtering and clearly not playing as well as he had in the past, Jefferson still completed 64.2% of his passes for 2,107 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while adding another 447 yards and two scores on the ground.
What it Means for Arkansas Football
As disappointing as it may be that it is losing a veteran, record-breaking quarterback, Arkansas football saw this move coming.
In fact, it landed KJ Jefferson’s apparent replacement earlier in the week by securing a commitment from Taylen Green out of the transfer portal.
A true dual-threat quarterback, Green was the 2022 Mountain West Freshman of the year and ended his time with Boise State on a high note, earning Offensive MVP honors in the MWC Championship Game.
Considering he was the hand-picked guy of new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, Green figures to have the inside track to the starting job in 2024.
However, he’ll have to battle Jacolby Criswell, who transferred back home from North Carolina last offseason and was Jefferson’s backup this year. There’s also a chance redshirt freshman Malachi Singleton or true freshman KJ Jackson make a push, as both were/are touted four-star recruits coming out of high school.
For a closer look at Arkansas’ quarterback situation without KJ Jefferson, check out Connor Goodson’s great in-depth breakdown of the position.
Arkansas Football Players in the Transfer Portal
Here’s a list of all 14 scholarship Arkansas football players who have decided to enter the transfer portal during the 2023-24 cycle…
- DT Anthony Booker Jr.
- DT Taurean Carter
- DB Malik Chavis
- LB Jordan Crook
- RB AJ Green
- QB KJ Jefferson
- DB Jaylen Lewis
- OL Devon Manuel
- WR Sam Mbake
- LB Chris Paul Jr. (Ole Miss)
- LB Mani Powell
- RB Rocket Sanders (South Carolina)
- WR Bryce Stephens
- OL Joey Su’a
More coverage of Arkansas football and the transfer portal from BoAS…
More on the KJ Jefferson transfer starting at 0:55 here: