FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman is like all other coaches now with the transfer portal being a key recruiting tool for the University of Arkansas.
This week, redshirt junior Josh Oglesby entered the transfer portal. Oglesby had only seen action in two games and rushed four time for 19 yards. He had one carry for two yards against Texas and then three carries for 17 yards against Georgia Southern. Pittman understood Oglesby’s decision since he was basically buried on the depth chart and not getting the carries he wanted.
“Yeah, and you know, to me I’m sure he won’t be the last guy that we have go into the portal,” Pittman said. “But to me, that’s exactly what the portal’s for. And Josh came in and spoke with me. And I don’t want to give you the details. That’d be up to him to whatever… I have a high respect for him. And it was, ‘Coach, I know my situation on the depth chart. I’ve got a lot of speed. I think I can go help somebody and play. I know where I’m at here. What do you think? And I said, ‘I think that’s exactly what the portal’s for. That you get stuck in a situation where you can’t get on the field, and everybody wants to play, go find a school that maybe needs his talents a little bit more than what we did. So, I was all for it and all for him being able to do that. Portal doesn’t mean… A lot of times it doesn’t mean the head coach is mad because a guy goes in it. A lot of times it can be mutual, and it can be to help this guy go play the game. It’s still a fun game, go play it.”
Last year, Arkansas added four players from the portal. They got defensive back Trent Gordon from Penn State, defensive tackle John Ridgeway from Illinois State and then a pair of defensive linemen from Missouri in Tre Williams and Markell Utsey. Pittman expects to use the portal again this year as well. Pittman was asked if he has someone regularly monitoring the portal?
“Yeah, we have several, we have more than somebody, but we have a few that’s looking at the portal,” Pittman said. “And then if we feel like they’re, you know, our caliber, SEC type caliber, then, you know, we get an evaluation from our recruiting department, and then it’s moved on through the process. The portal, usually, if they’re, if they’re very, very good, it goes pretty fast, you know, so you kind of have to be rolling on that as fast as you possibly can. And problem is there’s layers over 4,000 kids in the portal now, you know, so a lot of kids are, you know, going in and not being able to get out.”
Pittman did point out again he prefers to build the program with high school recruits as much as possible.
“I mean, I’ve said it many times, I believe that 80-85 percent of your team, 90, somewhere in that range, should be high school kids,” Pittman said. “If you’re going to build a foundation, you need to do it off of high school kids. However… It may be closer to 80, but you’ve got to have a few where you can go out in the portal and if you lose two or three linebackers, you may need an opportunity to either get a young great one out of high school or go into the portal. We have our portal board. I’m not really going to share… I don’t want to share that because it would seem negative to the kids we have, but we have a portal board where we think if we had three, if we had five scholarships, whatever it may be, we would go to that area first.”
As far as high school recruits in the Class of 2022, Pittman may have some of them in for bowl practices.
“Yes, I’m considering that,” Pittman said. “Obviously they have to pay their own way here. It’ll be more of the local guys that we would do that with. It just depends, to be honest with you. It depends on what bowl we get, for the date. Is it worth bringing a guy in two or three practices? I’m going to say yes because we can get some of the medical things done when they first get in here and then there’ll still be a little acclimation where they meet different people and understand a little bit to be more comfortable when they get back. That would probably have a lot of value to it too.”