COLUMBIA, Mo. — Myles Slusher has quit the Arkansas football team, a UA spokesperson confirmed Friday.
Head coach Sam Pittman also confirmed the defensive back’s departure during his postgame press conference following the Razorbacks’ 29-27 loss to Missouri.
“He came in, we visited on Sunday and Sunday evening he quit the team,” Pittman said.
The third-year coach acknowledged that the decision surprised him, but didn’t want to elaborate any further than that.
When Best of Arkansas Sports first shared the news on Twitter, Slusher quoted it with a message and then deleted the tweet.
“Quit?? If anybody know me (for real) I put people before myself before anything,” Slusher wrote. “Always been that way ain’t never been selfish always a team player in all phases of life. Everything ain’t always what it seem. Can the people yall praise in life say the same? #lastresponse”
It’s unknown exactly why Slusher left the team when he did, but he will presumably enter the transfer portal when it opens up Dec. 5.
Slusher is the second significant departure in as many weeks for Arkansas football, following Warren Thompson. The wide receiver started five of the first 10 games of the season, including his final game, but quit before the Ole Miss game.
All other transfers since the start of fall camp have been reserves: running backs Javion Hunt and James Jointer Jr., defensive back Chase Lowery, wide receiver Jaquayln Crawford and defensive tackle Taylor Lewis.
Myles Slusher at Arkansas
As notable of a loss as Warren Thompson was, Myles Slusher’s departure is unquestionably a bigger blow to the Razorbacks.
By flipping the Broken Arrow, Okla. from Oregon during the early signing period in 2020, native gave Sam Pittman a splashy addition to his first recruiting class with Arkansas football. That year, Slusher was the Razorbacks’ highest-ranked signee, checking in at No. 172 overall in the 247Sports Composite.
Since arriving in Fayetteville, Slusher has been a key member of the secondary when healthy, starting 15 games and playing 1,002 defensive snaps over the last three seasons.
As a true freshman, he battled a high-ankle sprain that caused him to miss four games, but he also started a pair of the six games in which he appeared. Slusher flashed his potential that year, posting a 65.7 Pro Football Focus grade on 199 defensive snaps.
The following season, it was a hamstring/quad injury that kept him out of the first two games entirely and limited him early on. When Jalen Catalon went down with a season-ending injury, Slusher slid into the starting lineup and started the final seven games.
Now a junior, Slusher moved from safety to nickel, where he’s started every game he’s been available. Unfortunately, that has been only six games this season.
After suffering what was believed to be a concussion in the opener, Slusher missed the next two games, returned to action and eventually suffered a calf injury that kept him out another two games. He also served a one-game suspension for a disorderly conduct arrest the morning after the Liberty game before returning to the starting lineup against Ole Miss, which proved to be his final game in an Arkansas uniform.
Slusher ends his career with the Razorbacks with 93 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble.
What it Means for Arkansas Football
In a season filled with injuries in the secondary, Arkansas had gotten pretty healthy in the weeks following the bye week. The only players it was missing were Jalen Catalon and LaDarrius Bishop, who suffered season-ending injuries in the first two weeks of the year.
Without Slusher, who was arguably their most talented available defensive back, the Razorbacks started Jayden Johnson at nickel. It was his seventh start of 2022, as he’s played both safety and nickel this season.
Although he had a solid performance in his last start, which was against LSU, Johnson has graded out poorly this year, according to Pro Football Focus. Coming into the game, his 49.2 grade was second-worst among 68 SEC defensive backs who’ve played at least 400 snaps.
Those struggles continued in the game, as he was beaten on at least one deep ball and was ultimately replaced by Malik Chavis early on. It’s unclear what the Razorbacks will do in their upcoming bowl game.
Moving forward, it’s a significant blow, especially if Catalon and cornerback Dwight McGlothern opt to enter the NFL Draft rather than returning for another season with the Razorbacks.
In that scenario, Slusher almost certainly would have been the most talented defensive back on the team, depending on how four-star freshman Quincey McAdoo develops and whether or not he chooses to stay on defense.
His departure also probably puts a greater importance on Arkansas getting safety Simeon Blair back as a super senior and it might influence whether or not Pittman asks Trent Gordon to return, as well. Gordon would be a super senior, but he has yet to get significant reps for the Razorbacks — except against Mississippi State and BYU when there were five or six injuries ahead of him on the depth chart — despite being listed as a second — or third-team nickel the last two seasons.
It’s worth noting that in the 2020 recruiting cycle, the Razorbacks signed a 20-man class that was ranked 29th in the country by 247Sports. Only half of those players are still in the program, as of Friday night — and that number includes offensive lineman Jalen St. John, whose status is up in the air following an arrest this week.
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