St. John withdraws name from transfer portal
FAYETTEVILLE — A day after entering it, Arkansas offensive lineman Jalen St. John has withdrawn his name from the transfer portal, Rivals has learned.
It appears to be an about-face from head coach Sam Pittman’s previously stated policy for players who enter the portal, which he told reporters at SEC Media Days over the summer. 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.”
However, Pittman has welcomed back players before. Defensive back Devin Bush entered the portal during the 2019 season and withdrew his name shortly after Pittman was hired as the new head coach. He also got linebacker Deon Edwards to change his mind and return to Arkansas as a super senior this season.
The situation with St. John was strange because news of him going into the portal broke just a few hours after Pittman told reporters he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t at Monday’s practice.
“He was not at practice today, so I'm not positive what's going on there, I got to talk to him,” Pittman said. “I really can't elaborate on St. John, because I don't really know any more on that. He just didn't show up for practice today. So I got to talk to him.”
Retaining the former four-star recruit is significant for the Razorbacks, who are continuing to try to develop depth along the offensive line. St. John was listed as a second-teamer on the depth chart most of 2021 and he appeared in two games, playing both left tackle and left guard.
The redshirt freshman likely would have played more this season, especially in the UAPB game, but he was held out of it because of a non-COVID illness and then missed the rest of the regular season with a wrist injury.
Arkansas is returning four of its five starting offensive linemen in 2022 and, based on comments from Pittman during the season, St. John figures to be in the mix to fill the fifth spot, along with Ty’Kieast Crawford.