Well, here we go again.
Another week, another announcement of an outgoing Razorback transfer. This time, the not-so-merry-go-round has punter Blake Johnson heading out the door.
Johnson had been the starter in 2017, but lost the starting job to true freshman walk-on Reid Bauer last season. In 2018, Johnson kicked in only two games — against Eastern Illinois and North Texas. He averaged only 30.4 yards on seven punts.
This is the 26th outgoing Razorback transfer the football program has seen since Chad Morris came aboard in December, 2017. The biggest names to leave the program include the 2018 starting quarterbacks — Cole Kelley and Ty Storey — as well as the 2018 leading receiver La’Michael Pettway.
This spinning carousel of personnel isn’t just happening with Razorback transfers. It’s happening at almost all major college football programs, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Indeed, based on this 247 Sports list, it looks like well over 100 players across the nation have or will transfer soon.
247 Sports notes that transfers have spiked in recent months because of the transfer portal:
“Starting Oct. 15, 2018 student athletes were allowed to enter their names into a transfer portal, which allows schools to initiate contact with them. While a player entering their name in the transfer portal does not mean a player intends to transfer, the portal’s presence has given athletes options they didn’t have before. Athletes can pursue and talk to other schools without restriction, all the while remaining enrolled at their present school.
There are risks. Players who enter their names could potentially lose their scholarship’s at semester’s end, and a program is under no obligation to keep player on the roster that explores transfer options…”
The whole process is “becoming free agency. That’s what it is. And it’s very alarming,” Arkansas coach Chad Morris recently said on a Buzz 103.7 interview.
Chad Morris : “We’re always in the quarterback market.”
Morris then went on to elaborate about Ty Storey’s departure. “He poured his heart and soul … He’s a Razorback. He’s so much a part of this program, and laid everything out on the field for us.”
And I’m very appreciative to him. He and I had some great talks this season, after the season. He was a 100% professional in how he handled all this. And got great respect for Ty. I want to wish him nothing but the best.
In the 103.7 The Buzz interview with Trey Schapp, Morris continued: “If you don’t jump on board with what’s happening, you fall behind … Well, we’re checking the portal every day, we’re going through all this, and we’re always in the quarterback market. Always.”
“I’ll tell you what, it’s just really crazy, talking to head coaches last week at our conference. You know, in the past, you’ve always had five scholarship quarterbacks on campus. I think we’re seeing that’s fixing to be a trend of the past.”
Arkansas now has four quarterbacks on campus in Connor Noland, John Stephen Jones, Daulton Hyatt and graduate transfer Ben Hicks. Class of 2019 signee KJ Jefferson, a dual-threat dynamo of a quarterback out of Mississippi, will also arrive on campus this summer.
Given Morris’ attitude towards “always” being in the quarterback market, is it possible that Arkansas could land another quarterback transfer in the coming months? If so, what are the chances it would be Texas transfer Shane Buechele?
I delve into details around that possibility, and also look at projected numbers for Ben Hicks’ 2019 season, below: