Hogs Need Most Transfer Help at 2 Positions Just an Injury away from Disaster

Elijah Herring, Sam Pittman, Arkansas football, transfer portal
photo credit: Tennessee Athletics / Craven Whitlow

The spring transfer portal window opened Tuesday and the first 48 hours didn’t bring much movement for the Arkansas football program.

Four Razorbacks have officially entered the portal, but two of them — offensive lineman Andrew Chamblee and defensive end Jashaud Stewart — were not with the team this spring. The only “new” departures have been running back Isaiah Augustave and quarterback Jacolby Criswell.

Based on their performances and where they took the majority of their reps during spring ball, both of those players were set to be third-teamers, at best. That means neither of them are particularly devastating losses, even though Augustave is still young and did flash some potential late last season.

(UPDATE: Punter Max Fletcher entered the transfer portal Thursday morning, becoming the fifth Arkansas football player to do so during the current spring window.)

Where their departures impact Arkansas the most is in the scholarship department.

Following the annual Red-White spring game on Saturday, Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman told reporters that there were five open scholarships that he and his staff could use on more incoming transfers. With Augustave, Criswell and Fletcher leaving, that number has grown to eight.

Here’s a look at how the Razorbacks can get back up to the 85-man scholarship limit set by the NCAA…

(READ NEXT: Check out Arkansas football’s full scholarship distribution here)

Potential Arkansas Football Transfers

The most obvious way Arkansas can fill those spots is by going into the transfer portal and signing more players. It landed 13 transfers who enrolled for the spring semester and many of them will make an impact in 2024 after going through spring ball.

It’s less common for players to transfer over the summer and have a similar impact, but it’s not unheard of. Linebacker Jaheim Thomas didn’t commit to the Razorbacks until May 1 last year and ended up being their leading tackler. A year earlier, Matt Landers committed on May 15 and was Arkansas’ leading receive the following season.

With eight spots to fill, there’s a decent chance one of the future transfers ends up playing a big role this season, but it’s impossible to know who before they actual commit. What we can do is look at which positions the Razorbacks are likely targeting.

Defensive Tackle

The most important position Arkansas needs to get from the transfer portal before next season is defensive tackle. It has a potential breakout star in Cam Ball leading the room, as well as veterans Eric Gregory and Keivie Rose back as sixth-year super seniors, but it’s pretty thin beyond that.

Redshirt freshman Ian Geffrard is a very large human (6-5, 380) even after losing some weight and the coaches are really high on him being able to help this season. He fills out the two-deep, but the Razorbacks rotated five defensive tackles last season, so they need at least one more — and that’s assuming everyone stays healthy.

Guys like JJ Hollingsworth, Kaleb James and walk-on Kyle Thompson have received the third-team reps in practice, but you probably don’t want to count on them in the SEC.

Arkansas is actively pursuing help at this position, extending an offer to Kent State transfer CJ West on Tuesday. West posted an impressive 85.9 PFF grade on 468 snaps last season, so he’s a highly coveted transfer. That means the Razorbacks have their work cut out for him, as he’s also received offers from the likes of Michigan, Texas A&M, Colorado, Wisconsin and several other Power Four schools.

However, it’s worth noting that he had a season-low 45.6 PFF grade against Arkansas, which was also the only game he didn’t start.

Offensive Line

This position was probably at the top of the list immediately following the season, but Arkansas has added Keyshawn Blackstock (Michigan State), Addison Nichols (Tennessee) and Fernando Carmona Jr. (San Jose State). All three of those players are currently projected to start up front.

The Arkansas football staff also sounds happy with returning All-SEC guard Josh Braun, who transferred in from Florida last offseason, and the move of Patrick Kutas from guard to tackle. That five-man combination seemed to perform well during the spring and should form a much-improved offensive line with Eric Mateos taking over as offensive line coach and Sam Pittman serving as the “graduate assistant” for the group in order to take a more hands-on approach with them.

However, Arkansas may be just one injury away from disaster on the offensive line. The second group was far less consistent throughout the spring.

At the tackle spots, Ty’Kieast Crawford has been around for a while, but never earned a starting job, while E’Marion Harris is immensely talented, but still young as a redshirt sophomore. At guard, there are a bunch of freshmen and redshirt freshmen, plus former walk-on Josh Street. Amaury Wiggins is a fine backup center, but probably not who you’d want to fill in for more than a handful of snaps.

With only 13 scholarship offensive linemen currently on the roster, it honestly wouldn’t be surprising if Arkansas added a couple more from the transfer portal — perhaps one older player who’s more ready to play immediately and one younger player who’s more of a developmental piece.

One player to keep an eye on here is Branson Hickman, a center from SMU. He took an official visit to Fayetteville this month, but is also being pursued by the likes of Oklahoma, TCU and UCF. He’s reportedly visiting the Sooners this weekend.


No position experienced more turnover at Arkansas this offseason than linebacker, as Chris “Pooh” Paul Jr., Jaheim Thomas, Jordan Crook and Mani Powell each entered the portal, while Antonio Grier exhausted his eligibility. Those guys accounted for nearly all of the Razorbacks’ linebacker snaps in 2023.

One of Arkansas’ biggest portal splashes so far was landing Xavian Sorey Jr., a former five-star recruit at Georgia, and he seems to have asserted himself as a starter, but the second spot is still up for grabs. The main candidates are a trio of second-year guys: Brad Spence, Alex Sanford and Carson Dean.

The Razorbacks did land some big-time high school prospects in Bradley Shaw and Wyatt Simmons, but neither of them enrolled early. That will put them behind the 8-ball when it comes to contributing as true freshmen.

Sam Pittman has expressed a desire to add another older player to help bring along the mostly young room, so expect that to happen this offseason. One intriguing option is Elijah Herring, who was Tennessee’s leading tackler last year. The Razorbacks have already added two former Vols from the transfer portal (Addison Nichols, Doneiko Slaughter), so maybe they go back to the well again.

Wide Receiver

As things currently stand, Arkansas has 11 scholarship wide receivers on its roster. The number of receivers offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino actually feels comfortable playing, though, is much smaller.

Tyrone Broden and Andrew Armstrong are easily the top two targets for quarterback Taylen Green, followed by Isaiah Sategna, Isaac TeSlaa and Jaedon Wilson — likely in that order. True freshman CJ Brown is probably pushing to be included in that group, as well, but he’s still really young.

If either Broden or Armstrong go down with injuries, the Razorbacks are likely in trouble. Even in practice, Green struggled mightily when Armstrong was dealing with a pulled hamstring and Broden left for a week because of a family matter, not to mention Wilson missing extended time with a shoulder injury.

Arkansas could really use another receiver capable of contributing in 2024.

Other Positions

With the departures of Isaiah Augustave and Jacolby Criswell, the Razorbacks are also somewhat thin at running back and quarterback — but anyone brought in at those positions would clearly be for depth purposes, making it hard to get high-end talent.

There are only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. Taylen Green the starter, with Malachi Singleton and KJ Jackson — neither of whom have taken a collegiate snap — fighting for the backup job. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Arkansas find someone like Cade Fortin a few years ago just to add some experience to the room.

Running back is pretty set with Ja’Quinden Jackson and Rashod Dubinion the clear top two, Braylen Russell the young up-and-comer and Dominique Johnson the experienced veteran, but if an opportunity to bring in a young guy to develop arises, Arkansas could take him.

The same could be said at defensive end, as the third-team unit at that spot consists of a pair of talented true freshmen — Kavion Henderson and Charlie Collins.

Potential Walk-Ons Worthy of Scholarships

In the old days, Arkansas would have to fill those seven scholarships with walk-ons already on the roster because there was a limit to how many players teams could add in one offseason. That 25-man cap has since been eliminated, allowing programs to bring in an unlimited number of transfers.

That’s why the Razorbacks will likely attempt to fill those spots with transfers, but if they can’t, there are a few walk-ons Sam Pittman could reward with scholarships, similar to was done with offensive lineman Josh Street last year.

Offensively, Maddox Lassiter might be the second-best blocking-oriented tight end on the roster behind Andreas Paaske, Kamron Bibby caught a ton of passes at wide receiver and Brooks Edmunson has played both guard and center with the second- and third-team units.

On the other side of the ball, Kyle Henderson got plenty of reps because of the lack of depth at defensive tackle and Brooks Both has been singled out a few times for his play at linebacker.

It’s also worth mentioning that kicker Vito Calvaruso and punter Devin Bale are pushing for starting jobs against their scholarship counterparts — Matthew Shipley and Max Fletcher, respectively.

UPDATE (April 18): With Fletcher hitting the transfer portal, the most likely walk-on to get a scholarship is likely Bale because he is now in line to be the starter — barring the addition of another punter from the portal.


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