FAYETTEVILLE — Redshirt sophomore safety Jalen Catalon is returning to Arkansas for his fourth season and that pleases Sam Pittman.
Pittman also is thankful junior center Ricky Stromberg has also announced his intentions to return. Pittman had a big smile when this subject came up.
“Yeah, there you go!,” Pittman said. “Go Hogs. Stromberg before that. Go Hogs.”
Pittman also talked about his thoughts on the two returning.
“Well, I think he made a great decision,” Pittman said of Catalon while laughing. “No, for him personally, I think it was a good decision, as well. Certainly coming off the shoulder (injury) that he had last year, he wasn’t able to complete what was a fine season that started out. With him coming back, it’s a big, big thing for us. I think it will certainly help him and Ricky the same way. I think Ricky contemplated going out. I think he could make a team. I thought if he came back another year, got stronger another year of playing, that he could really roll up the draft board. But I was just honest with both of them about where they were on the board and then let them decide what they wanted to do. Fortunately for us, they both decided to come back. Both of them were draft able, by the way.”
In six games in 2021, Catalon had 46 tackles, 22 solo, 1.5 for loss, two interceptions, four pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. Catalon had a breakout season in 2020. In 10 games, including nine starts, he had 99 tackles, including 51 solo. two for loss, two forced fumbles, recovered one, three interceptions and seven pass breakups.
Catalon’s season was cut short by shoulder surgery. Is it something that he will be able to go through spring drills?
“I think he would be ready to go through spring ball,” Pittman said. “We’ll certainly be cautious with him and he probably won’t, we wouldn’t put him in any live scrimmages or anything of that nature. We might put a green jersey on him, a little bit like we did Hayden Henry last year in spring. We kind of took all the hitting off of him because he was trying to get his shoulders healthy, too, but I believe he can be out there all the time except maybe live scrimmages.”
Arkansas and Penn State will kickoff at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. The game will be televised on ESPN2.