In 2011, former Razorback basketball recruit Archie Goodwin stated he made a “business decision” in choosing Kentucky over his home state Hogs.
That line of reasoning didn’t fly over too well with a lot of folks.
Fast forward a dozen years and fewer people have qualms with the idea of money being central to why a student-athlete would choose one school over the other. Goodwin was one of the first one-and-done talents from the state of Arkansas, but nowadays that one-and-done culture extends beyond college basketball and into college baseball and football as well with the advent of the transfer portal.
In football, transfers like Feleipe Franks, Drew Sanders, Tre Williams, John Ridgeway and Jadon Haselwood step into a Razorback uniform for a year, show out, and then move on and hardly anybody bats an eye. Their reasoning for choosing Arkansas over other schools usually includes knowing coaches on staff and/or relishing the opportunity to start and get a lot of snaps in the SEC as an audition for getting a foot in the NFL.
Even in the age of NIL, which of course often factors into the decisions of recruits regardless of background, transfers coming to Arkansas rarely put money front and center as part of the reason for their arrival.
Arkansas transfer recruit Doneiko Slaughter, a 6-foot-0, 190-pound cornerback who started for the Tennessee football team over the last two seasons, is different in this regard. The former blue-chipper out of Roswell, Ga., who splattered Bryce Young like a bug, finished his official visit to the University of Arkansas on Thursday and, one day later, announced he’d spend his final college season in Arkansas.
Part of the reasoning is what you would expect – the Arkansas football staff.
Slaughter grew up with Razorbacks graduate assistant Tyrone Hopper in Roswell and likes what he sees from Sam Pittman: “He’s a great character guy. He don’t tell you what you want to hear all the time… He can build my character off the field, too. I think I can have a connection with him past football.”
On the visit, Slaughter also vibed with the defensive staff, including secondary coach Deron Wilson and co-defensive coordinator Marcus Woodson among others.
“I feel they can develop me a lot here knowing their past,” the two-year starter said on Thursday. “We have some history and that makes me feel good about coming here.”
Doneiko Slaughter Kills It in Adulting Dept.
Just when you thought things were going ho-hum, however, the new Arkansas football transfer threw a curve-ball by mentioning what also excites him about coming to northwest Arkansas: the prospect of making his dollars stretch farther.
“The cost of living is very cheap,” he said. “I can bring my family here and have no problems off the field.”
It’s unclear where exactly Slaughter is getting his economic data, considering the overall cost of living in Fayetteville is actually 7% higher than in Knoxville, Tenn. However, a lot of that boost comes in the form of transportation and entertainment costs. Neither is likely to be a big deal to a football player who would likely live close to campus and have plenty of low-cost entertainment options at the ready with his teammates.
According to Nerdwallet/The Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research, though, the healthcare costs in Fayetteville are 10% lower than in Knoxville. That absolutely matters when helping to raise a new family, as Slaughter indicated when he said he visited only the UA because time is limited with “a baby on the way.”
It’s not public knowledge how much Slaughter could pull down in NIL money from the Razorbacks after the recent launching of the Arkansas Edge collective, but it would be a shock if he can’t make more at Arkansas than in Knoxville given the way he’s talking up the Hogs.
Tennessee Football Experts Weigh In
A few Tennessee football experts believe money to be the prime motive here.
Jimmy Hyams, the former News Sentinel sportswriter and Knoxville sports talk radio host, thinks Slaughter entered the transfer portal to test the waters “trying to find more money in NIL,” as he says in the “Off the Hook” video below.
Off the Hook’s Caleb Calhoun adds: “I think it’s revealing that he’s testing the waters because he wasn’t that good when he was in there last year, guys. We all think he was a total waste of potential. Potential, he may be the best player on that secondary, and he never lived up to it.”
You can see that potential realized loud and clear with this 2022 hit of Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young:
Slaughter took a step back in 2023 by most accounts, even though he tallied 32 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in 10 games. In 2022, he had made 31 tackles, 6 pass break-ups and an interception in two more games. He also had a run-in with the law,
While Doneiko Slaughter can play cornerback, safety or nickel, he struggled a lot when he had to play the latter against Georgia according to Caleb Calhoun. Not long after that game, in which he rack up a career-high 11 tackles, Slaughter was cited for reckless driving.
As to why he has joined five(!) other Tennessee defensive backs in the transfer portal, Calhoun says part of that could be these transfers see the writing on the wall for their position coach. Willie Martinez is the only member of the Vols’ staff without a year remaining on his contract.
More likely, though, Slaughter and the rest of them realized they couldn’t hold off better, younger talent any longer.
“Tennessee Football is high on its young and incoming defensive backs,” Calhoun wrote. “Jordan Matthews and Rickey Gibson III are highly touted freshmen about to take a huge leap forward. Gabe Jeudy-Lally is a reliable rotational player.”
“That could lock down all three cornerback/nickel positions next year and doesn’t even include the four new defensive backs in this upcoming recruiting class.”
Out with the old, in with the new?
Sounds like business as usual on the merry-go-round that is college football transfer season.
Slaughter is one of a few transfers visiting Arkansas this week. Read about the others here:
More on Slaughter’s reason to enter the transfer portal at 1:57 below. Addison Nichols is another Tennessee football transfer visiting Arkansas. Discussion of him starts at 4:00:
Check out Slaughter’s huge hit against UK at 1:20 below. It’s similar to Drew Sanders’ “Come to Poppa” hit against Missouri State: