football Edit

Backup QB's departure leaves behind lack of depth for Hogs

Arkansas quarterback Malik Hornsby plans to enter the transfer portal.
Arkansas quarterback Malik Hornsby plans to enter the transfer portal. (Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports)

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Arkansas’ week of portal departures will continue with backup quarterback Malik Hornsby.

After playing sparingly over the last two seasons with the Razorbacks, the highly touted dual-threat quarterback announced Thursday night via Twitter that he was entering the portal. He officially appeared in the portal Friday afternoon.

It is the 10th departure from the team since Arkansas’ win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl and the sixth to do so by entering the portal. The Razorbacks have also had three seniors declare for the NFL Draft and a fourth - running back Trelon Smith - announce he’s moving on without disclosing his exact plans.

A former North Carolina commit, Hornsby was a 5.7 three-star recruit coming out of Fort Bend Marshall High in Missouri City, Texas, and turned down offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M and several others to sign with the Razorbacks in the Class of 2020.

He appeared in just one game as a true freshman - rushing twice for minus-1 yard in the red zone against Auburn - to maintain his redshirt.

As a redshirt freshman, Hornsby got a lot more playing time as KJ Jefferson’s backup. He completed 5 of 12 passes for 46 yards and rushed for 136 yards on 24 carries. His lone career touchdown came on a 6-yard run late in a blowout win over Georgia Southern.

Perhaps the best game of his career was his last. He briefly relieved Jefferson because of an injury and then finished the game at quarterback, racking up 67 yards on just four carries against Penn State.

In just two years, the Razorbacks’ 2020 class - which ranked No. 41 nationally on Rivals - has been depleted through the portal. Half of the 20 traditional signees have either entered the portal or never made it to campus. That number doesn’t include kicker Vito Calvaruso, who was a preferred walk-on signee in that class.

The departure of Hornsby is also significant for Arkansas because it is left with only two healthy quarterbacks heading into the 2022 season. Jefferson is the unquestioned starter and his lone backup is now Lucas Coley, who didn’t play at all as a true freshman this season.

The Razorbacks also have walk-on Kade Renfro - who originally signed with Ole Miss as a scholarship quarterback - on the roster, but he tore his ACL during the bowl practices. John Stephen Jones, the third-team quarterback this year, is technically a redshirt junior and could return, but he was honored on senior day and head coach Sam Pittman did not mention him when discussing the depth at the position for next year.

Arkansas chose not to pursue a quarterback in the 2022 class because Pittman said the staff felt good about that depth and thought it might help them land a high-profile one in the 2023 class.

The injury to Renfro led to Pittman admitting the Razorbacks might look into adding a quarterback from the portal for depth purposes, but he would talk to Jefferson and Hornsby before taking that route. It now appears that conversation would be needed with just one of those players.

According to HawgBeat’s projections, Arkansas is down to 81 scholarship players for the 2022 season. That number could grow to 84 if linebacker Bumper Pool and offensive lineman Shane Clenin opt to return as super seniors and if unsigned safety commit Myles Rowser signs in February.

The Razorbacks can also still sign up to five more players - from the high school/junior college ranks or the portal - in the 2022 class, or six if Rowser does not sign.

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