By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — Clarendon tight end Dax Courtney was forced to retire from football this week thus opening another scholarship under the 85-overall limit.

It’s uncertain if Sam Pittman will fill the vacant slots. He was asked Tuesday if that was a possibility and discussed what options he would have.

The deadline for a prospect to enter the transfer portal and be eligible this fall was May 1. Arkansas currently has 83 players on scholarship and thus could add to get to the 85. However, all the players who entered prior to May 1 that are probably SEC material have long been signed and preparing for the upcoming season. However Pittman did explain how he might possibly look to fill the vacant scholarships.

“I don’t know,” Pittman said. “You know, if you had you a guy that was exceptional that transferred after the portal transfer deadline. In other words, he could transfer, he could be on scholarship, but he couldn’t play this year. If we found somebody like that, where they could go through practice and all those things and be up in the spring, we might do that. But that would be really the only answer to your question, right now.”

Another situation being discussed was number of players transferring from one SEC school to another. Pittman obviously has no objection to that and explained why.

“It’s hard to say anything negative about it whenever we’re doing it, too,” Pittman said. “When we’re going and getting players from LSU and Georgia and Alabama. I think originally in the portal, I thought it was for kids that were over-recruited. In other words, they’d come to Arkansas … Mistake’s not the word, but we over-recruited them. They can’t play here. And allow them to be able to move without punishment to a MAC school or somewhere else. And I know the MAC plays really good ball, too. I don’t mean that negative, either.

“But really what it’s come down to now, a lot of it is, I’m not playing as much as I want to, I see somewhere else that I can go to and play right away. Some of it has to do with NIL money. Managing your roster right now is the hardest thing to do in my opinion as a head coach in college football. It’s hard. But I think you have to transfer within the conference if you’re going to have the transfer rule, because most of the time the players that we’re looking for are in this league. And so I guess I’m for the rule that we’re not separate from anybody else.”

Among the SEC players that Pittman and his staff have gotten are quarterback Feleipe Franks (Florida), defensive end Landon Jackson (LSU), cornerback Dwight McGlothern (LSU), linebacker Drew Sanders (Alabama), defensive end Tre Williams (Houston and Missouri), defensive lineman Markell Utsey (Missouri) and safety Latavious Brini (Georgia). Ole Miss walk-on quarterback Kade Renfro is also at Arkansas.

Following the 2021 season, two defensive backs Joseph Foucha and Greg Brooks, transferred from Arkansas to LSU. Both were from Louisiana.