Pittman clarifies portal policy
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FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman drew some national headlines in his SEC Media Days debut last summer.
Asked about his philosophy with the transfer portal, the longtime assistant-turned-Arkansas head coach told reporters that players who leave wouldn’t be welcomed back. He even compared it to his relationship with his wife.
“Once you go to the transfer portal at the University of Arkansas, you sure ain't transferring back in,” Pittman said. “I’m pretty sure, if I asked Jamie if I go to transfer for a week and figure it out, would she let me come back, I'm sure the answer would be no. That's the way we feel about that, too.”
It was the kind of comment that has endeared Pittman to the Arkansas fanbase, as his honest personality — along with a 9-win season — has made him a popular figure in the state.
A few months later, though, Pittman appeared to contradict himself be allowing offensive lineman Jalen St. John and quarterback Malik Hornsby to return to the team after entering the portal.
However, as you’ve come to expect from him in his two-plus years on the job, Pittman made sure to clear the air. Following Thursday’s practice, he clarified his comments without being prompted by the media.
“Sometimes you say things that aren’t true,” Pittman said. “I want you to know I’m not saying things that I believe is not going to be true.”
The key for both players was the timing of their decisions. St. John was in the portal for only one day in December and Hornsby was in for about a week in January.
“Malik didn’t miss any practice, didn’t miss anything,” Pittman said. “He got in the portal over (a break). The thing that bothers me is if we’ve got guys working for three weeks and a guy goes into the portal, he doesn’t like who comes back on the portal, and he says, ‘Can I come back to the team?’ No. You missed three weeks of ball (and) work. Malik didn’t do that.”
Regardless of how they went down, keeping those players was a big offseason win for the Razorbacks.
Not only is Hornsby the backup in a depleted quarterback room, but he has also recently started working some at wide receiver and has the speed to contribute on offense this season.
St. John, meanwhile, has seemingly solidified himself as the top backup at guard. The former four-star recruit has been working at left guard with the second-team offense so far in spring ball.