Pittman’s Hard-Earned Lesson Would Explain Taylen Green’s Arrival Even if KJ Jefferson Stays

Taylen Green, Boise State football, Arkansas football, transfer portal
photo credit: Boise State Athletics

Bobby Petrino has accomplished one of his top tasks since returning to Arkansas as the offensive coordinator, securing a commitment from quarterback Taylen Green out of the transfer portal.

The former Boise State standout announced his pledge to the Razorbacks on Monday, following an official visit to Fayetteville over the weekend. Rated as a high three-star transfer, he checks in at No. 89 overall and No. 16 among quarterbacks in the portal, according to On3.

It was a quick process for Green (6-6, 221 pounds), who spent just one week in the portal. In fact, his commitment tweet was 18 minutes shy of being exactly seven days following his departure tweet.

His trip to Arkansas was expected to be the first of at least five visits, with trips to Cal, BYU, LSU and Oregon State also on the docket, but now those won’t happen.

Instead, Green is the third transfer to commit to Arkansas this cycle, joining offensive lineman Keyshawn Blackstock from Michigan State and Andreas Paaske from Eastern Michigan.

It’s widely expected that the Razorbacks will add several more before next season, as they’ve extended 20-plus offers to players in the portal and, according to our unofficial roster tracker, still have 12 scholarships to fill for 2024, not including the potential super seniors who’ve yet to announce their decisions.

That number could grow with de-commitments and players transferring out or shrink with commitments and super seniors returning.

Early Career with Boise State Football

Coming out of Lewisville High School in Texas, recruiting services were split on Taylen Green in the 2021 class. He ranged from a two-star prospect on Rivals to a four-star on On3, with ESPN tabbing him as a mid-tier three-star and 247Sports having him closer to high four-star territory.

His offer sheet looked like one of a two- or low three-star recruit, as it featured only seven FBS schools – all of which were from the Group of Five ranks. He chose Boise State over Central Michigan, Marshall, New Mexico State, San Diego State, UTEP and Wyoming, plus a handful of FCS schools, including Missouri State and Bobby Petrino.

“Crazy to think three years later I get to be coached by coach Petrino,” Green told Tye Richardson of ESPN Arkansas on Wednesday. “He recruited me in high school. What attracted me was just his knowledge of the game, the detail that he speaks and just the evidence of all the quarterbacks he’s coached, the great quarterbacks he’s coached and developed.”

As a true freshman, Green was the third-string quarterback behind starter Hank Bachmeier and backup Jack Sears, both of whom were former four-star recruits. He appeared in only two games, allowing him to maintain his redshirt, and played just six snaps.

With Sears moving on, he was poised to be the backup in 2022. However, just four games into the year, things changed.

Bachmeier opted to enter the transfer portal after starting the first four games in order to preserve the year of eligibility and Green was suddenly thrust into a starting role as a redshirt freshman.

He went 8-2 as the starter, capped by a Frisco Bowl win over North Texas in which he accounted for 258 total yards and three touchdowns.

Finishing the year with a 61.3% completion percentage, 2,042 yards, 14 touchdowns and only six interceptions, plus 588 yards and 10 scores on 81 carries, Green was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year and landed on the College Football News Freshman All-America Second Team.

Taylen Green’s Up-and-Down 2023

It appeared that Boise State football had found its quarterback of the future, but things didn’t play out quite like that.

Similar to the struggles KJ Jefferson experienced this season fall under Dan Enos, Taylen Green seemed to regress under new offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan. It was even more pronounced than what Arkansas football fans saw with Jefferson because the Broncos didn’t stick with him.

Instead, they went to a two-quarterback system midway through the season and Green split time with redshirt freshman Maddux Madsen. Taylen Green remained the starter, but his playing time dwindled until he was benched against New Mexico in the 10th game of the year.

Madsen suffered a season-ending injury in that game, though, so Green became the full-time quarterback again. Despite head coach Andy Avalos being fired after that game, Boise State won its next three games – capped by a win over UNLV in the MWC Championship Game.

That was arguably Green’s best game of his career, as he completed 12 of 15 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, plus added 90 yards and two more scores on only eight carries. That earned him Offensive MVP honors for the title game.

Even with that solid performance, his overall numbers for the season dipped. He completed only 57.1% of his passes for 1,752 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Green’s Pro Football Focus grade dropped from 78.8 last year to 68.0 this season, as well.

His production on the ground also suffered. While his 436 rushing yards and nine touchdowns are solid, his yards per carry went from 7.3 to 5.6.

It remains to be seen how much of that can be attributed to shaken confidence from the two-quarterback system or the new offensive coordinator not knowing how to properly utilize his talents, rather than actual regression. Regardless, Green has certainly shown the ability to be a very good dual-threat college quarterback in the past.

Just look what Utah State head coach Blake Anderson, who used to coach at Arkansas State, had to say about him leading up to their game this season.

“I think he’s one of the best athletes we saw all last season,” Anderson said. “Really scares you to death just how good he can really be. The ability to take what could have been a 5-, 6-, 7-yard gain and turn it into a touchdown. You’ve got to defend him every snap and it’s not just his feet. He threw the ball so well in that game, especially early in that game.”

What it Means for Arkansas Football, KJ Jefferson

It would be easy to assume the addition of Taylen Green from the transfer portal means Arkansas football is expecting to lose KJ Jefferson, who has yet to announce his plans for his final year of eligibility.

That may still happen, as things seem to have been trending toward him entering the portal, but the Razorbacks were always going to try to get a quarterback out of the portal this offseason, regardless of Jefferson’s decision.

Arkansas went through the 2023 season with four scholarship quarterbacks and one of them, Cade Fortin, was a super senior and couldn’t return even if he wanted to. In addition to Jefferson, the Razorbacks also had Jacolby Criswell and Malachi Singleton.

Four-star prospect KJ Jackson is set to sign with Arkansas next week, essentially replacing Fortin, but Sam Pittman learned the hard way that he must always think ahead at the quarterback position.

He didn’t sign a quarterback in the 2022 class because he felt good about the depth at the position, only for it to quickly backfire because of an injury and a transfer. Such events, particularly the latter, can decimate a quarterback room in an instant and, based on social media postings by his mother, Singleton has to be on transfer watch.

Of course, adding a player with Green’s talent and potential is never a bad idea, especially with a new offensive coordinator who previously recruited him out of high school.

Whether it includes Jefferson or not, competition is never bad. At the very least, adding a quarterback out of the portal gives the Razorbacks more options for 2024.

“Competition brings out the best in everybody, especially in the SEC,” Green told Richardson. “You have to compete every single practice. Arkansas’ defense is good and going against them every day in spring practice and fall camp, even the summer competition brings out the best. Accept the challenge go ahead full steam.”

***

Hear Taylen Green’s first interview as a Razorback here:

Check out some highlights of Arkansas football transfer portal commit Taylen Green from his 2022 season at Boise State:

***

More coverage of Arkansas football and the transfer portal from BoAS…

Facebook Comments