Arkansas Razorbacks Football Injury Report: Levi Draper retires, Ricky Stromberg update, Jalen Williams tidbit
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Injury Report: LB-turned-TE retires, Stromberg update, more

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Levi Draper has retired from football because of medical reasons.
Levi Draper has retired from football because of medical reasons. (Arkansas Athletics)

**2021 FALL CAMP HQ**

FAYETTEVILLE — Levi Draper has retired from football because of a shoulder injury, head coach Sam Pittman announced Thursday.

A former four-star linebacker, the Collinsville, Okla., native transferred to Arkansas from Oklahoma last offseason, but appeared in only one game in 2020 before being shut down because of injuries.

After playing 12 special teams snaps in the opener against Georgia, Draper had season-ending shoulder surgery that also kept him out of spring ball. He returned in time for fall camp and was moved to tight end by the Razorbacks’ third practice.

However, the experiment was over almost as soon as it started.

“His shoulder went out,” Pittman said. “So he's done, with my blessing. I actually called him in to talk to him about it because he's already had three surgeries in his career, two last year, hurt it again the day we moved him to tight end.”

With Draper out of the picture, Arkansas has now moved running back Dominique Johnson to tight end. This comes after a season that saw defensive end Eric Thomas Jr. and offensive lineman Marcus Henderson get a look at the position, as well as Blayne Toll flip-flop between tight end and defensive line.

One reason the Razorbacks are still light on numbers at tight end is because true freshman Erin Outley has yet to fully recover from a meniscus injury that caused him to miss most of his senior season at Little Rock Parkview.

“He had a good summer, got in better shape (after he) came in a little heavy,” Pittman said. “But we as a staff, as a medical staff, don’t think that he’s healthy enough right now to go out there and possibly not get hurt, not get out of his own way right now.”

That has left Arkansas with only Blake Kern, Hudson Henry, Collin Sutherland and converted wide receiver Koilan Jackson as scholarship tight ends. It also has a trio of walk-ons in Nathan Bax, Nathan Johnson and Zach Lee.

The most significant injury of camp so far was to starting center Ricky Stromberg. Pittman confirmed the preseason All-SEC selection is “banged up” after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported he was out with an MCL injury.

He did not provide any insight on how long he’d be out, but his response to how Ty Clary is handling to move from right guard to center seems to indicate the Razorbacks don’t anticipate him missing the Sept. 4 opener against Rice.

“(Clary’s) doing a nice job of it, but that's a position where if he went from right guard to left guard, it's probably a lot easier than going right guard to center even though he's done it before,” Pittman said. “The snapping and the calls and all those things, I think he's improving each day and he is our two center right now."

Although he has been a full participant through six practices of camp, Pittman said he doesn’t think defensive tackle Jalen Williams is back to 100 percent after missing some time in the spring with a back injury.

The junior college transfer has been cleared by the doctors, but Pittman said he doesn’t have the quick twitch they expected to see from him. If that returns, Williams could contribute on the defensive line.

“I have not seen him move yet like the tape we recruited him off of,” Pittman said. “If you talked to him, he’d say the same thing. I have to think that there’s still some type of back issue.

“He says there’s not and the medical people say there’s not, so there’s probably not…but he’s not moving yet like what I think that he can or what I saw off his recruiting tape.”