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Arkansas S Jalen Catalon enters the NCAA transfer portal

Despite suffering back-to-back season-ending injuries, the Mansfield Legacy product is an intriguing name for the Longhorns.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Arkansas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas Razorbacks rising redshirt senior safety Jalen Catalon entered the NCAA transfer portal on Friday.

“I think he just wants a fresh start,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. “I talked to him about if he was going to leave here, if he wanted my advice, I would just declare for the NFL and give (that) a chance. But he had a different view on it. Whatever he wants to do, we’ll be fine with it.”

A 5’10, 201-pounder, Catalon was a consensus four-star prospect in the 2019 recruiting class and a key target of the Texas Longhorns. The former coaching staff wasn’t able to close with Catalon, however, as he chose Arkansas over Oklahoma, TCU, and Texas in January 2019.

After playing in four games as a freshman, Catalon broke out in 2020, becoming a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist and earning first team All-SEC recognition from the AP after recording 99 total tackles (51 solo), two tackles for loss, three interceptions, four passes broken up, one fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles in 10 games.

Season-ending injuries derailed Catalon’s ascent to becoming an NFL Draft prospect. In 2021, Catalon played in six games due to a shoulder injury before opting to return to Fayetteville, but suffered another shoulder injury in the 2022 season opener that required reconstructive surgery.

The medical questions surrounding Catalon’s shoulder are the likely reason he’s not exploring the NFL Draft process and will serve as a significant cause for concern to any programs interested in his services from the transfer portal.

But if he appears capable of returning to the field, Texas could have interest in Catalon, who is being followed on Twitter by tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Banks and an offensive graduate assistant — with the departure of Anthony Cook and unproven depth behind the super senior, the Horns are strong candidates to pursue an experienced player in the portal.

So Catalon is a player worth following over the coming weeks as the Texas portal plans become more apparent.