Hogs lose 2nd player to medical retirement in camp
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas tight end Koilan Jackson has decided to retire from football because of medical reasons, a UA spokesperson confirmed to HawgBeat.
A native of Little Rock, Jackson was plagued by injuries throughout his career. He redshirted his first year on campus because of a torn ACL and an injury to the opposite knee required season-ending surgery last season.
Coming out of Joe T. Robinson, Jackson was a 5.6 three-star prospect and the No. 3 recruit in the Natural State for the 2017 class, according to Rivals. He committed to Arkansas early in the process, turning down offers from Army and Illinois.
In addition to being the son of Keith Jackson, who starred at Oklahoma before a successful career in the NFL, Jackson’s older brothers also played college football. Keith Jr. was a starting defensive lineman for the Razorbacks, while Kenyon went to Illinois.
During his collegiate career, Jackson appeared in 14 games for the Razorbacks and caught four passes for 51 yards. Three of those appearances were as a redshirt freshman in 2018 and the other 11 came in 2019.
His first career reception was a 13-yard gain on the final play of Arkansas’ loss to Missouri to end the 2018 season. He added three more receptions for 38 yards the following year, including 6-yard touchdown late in a loss at Ole Miss.
As he returned from his latest injury, Jackson approached the coaching staff this offseason about moving from wide receiver to tight end and Sam Pittman obliged. Not only is that the same position as his College Football Hall of Fame father, but he also switched to his dad’s old jersey number, 88. Jackson practiced at the position during camp until making the decision to retire.
The Razorbacks now have only five scholarship tight ends on the roster, and that number includes converted quarterback Landon Rogers and injured true freshman Erin Outley, who has yet to suit up in camp. Former walk-on Blake Kern and Hudson Henry - who wasn’t at practice Tuesday - are expected to handle the bulk of the reps at the position this season, with walk-on Nathan Bax likely the third option.
Jackson is the second Arkansas player to retire because of medical reasons during camp. Linebacker Levi Draper, who had also made the move to tight end, made the decision after suffering another shoulder injury. The Razorbacks saw offensive lineman Noah Gatlin retire during the spring, as well.
His departure brings Arkansas down to 79 scholarship players for the 2021 season, according to HawgBeat’s unofficial distribution chart. That number, which doesn’t include seniors who returned for an extra year because of the pandemic-related eligibility relief, is six shy of the 85-man limit set by the NCAA.
The Razorbacks will need to get up to 85 before the season in order to retain the ability to bring in early enrollees after the semester. The remaining six spots will be filled by walk-ons. Click here for HawgBeat’s breakdown of which players are likely candidates to receive those scholarships.