The Arkansas Razorbacks received news Thursday that redshirt junior cornerback Jarques McClellion is opting out of the 2020 football season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two other Hogs have opted out of this season, redshirt freshman wide receiver Shamar Nash and redshirt senior offensive lineman Chibueze Nwanna. McClellion released a statement on Twitter regarding his decision.
“AFTER, MUCH THOUGHT AND CONSIDERATION MY FAMILY AND I HAVE DECIDED DUE TO THE GROWING HEALTH CONCERNS, IT’S BEST FOR ME TO OPT OUT OF THE 2020 FOOTBALL SEASON,” McClellion wrote. “I’VE BEEN quarantine twice since returning on June 1st and after watching my momma fight for her life on the ventilator last year during the birth of my little sister. This has really hit home for me and my family being quarantined twice, I wish my university all the best this football season.”
Over the past two seasons, McClellion has started 20 games at cornerback for the Hogs. With the tough 10-game SEC schedule for the Razorbacks this season, McClellion’s absence will be felt on the defensive side of the ball.
As a redshirt sophomore last season, McClellion appeared in all 12 games and started in 11. He totaled 34 tackles, four pass breakups and an interception on the year. He tallied 15 tackles and three pass breakups over the span of Weeks 3-5.
During his redshirt freshman season in 2018, McClellion played in all 12 games and started nine at the corner spot. The Lake Worth, Florida, native recorded 29 tackles and a career-high seven pass breakups. His best performance of the year came on Oct. 13, 2018, when he racked up five tackles and two pass breakups against Ole Miss.
In Arkansas’ 37-10 Week 1 loss to Georgia, McClellion was not spotted on the sidelines for the Hogs, who did not give a specific reason for his absence. The Razorback defense showed they lacked depth as they began to fall apart in the second half.
With the offseason addition of Arkansas State graduate transfer cornerback Jerry Jacobs, McClellion was moved down to the No. 3 cornerback on the depth chart. That did not mean he would not see significant playing time this season. He was projected to once again have a big role for the defense.
Before McClellion made his announcement Thursday, Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman mentioned in his Sept. 28 press conference that it would be nice to have him back for the Mississippi State game.
"I think that'll help us. [Mateo Soli] will be back on defense. McClellion will be back. Those are two that strike me,” Pittman said.
The Arkansas secondary was one of the question marks on defense coming into the season. Jacobs and redshirt junior Montaric Brown, who had an interception in the Georgia game, are tabbed as the starters, but the defensive back cupboard is filled with little-to-no experience after that.
Behind Brown and Jacobs comes junior Myles Mason, who has started one career game previous to this season, and true freshman Khari Johnson. Redshirt sophomore LaDarrius Bishop, who started three games at corner in 2019, and redshirt freshman Devin Bush, who missed the Georgia game, will likely have larger roles for the remainder of the season.
The Razorbacks are preparing to take on the air-raid offense of the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday, Oct. 3. The game will be played at 6:30 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi, and can be found on the SEC Network Alternate channel.