FAYETTEVILLE — One of the deepest positions at Arkansas is the running back room coached by Jimmy Smith.
Sam Pittman was asked about the running back depth and talent on Thursday and he was quick to credit Smith for the talent present there.
“That’s Jimmy,” Pittman said. “That’s Coach Smith. I mean, it’s hard to have Rocket (Sanders) and AJ (Green) and now (Rashod) Dubinion and Dominique Johnson and keep them all and they’re all not mopy and walking around like that. That’s all Jimmy Smith doing that. There’s got to be A1, and he’s got to carry the ball more than the 2, and then the 2 has to carry the ball more than the 3. Sometimes games don’t work out that way is the problem. You know, he’s in there but he’s not carrying it. That’s Jimmy doing a good job with them, and I think the greatest thing we have in that room is competition, including Dubinion now that he’s come in. I really like him. I think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Johnson is listed as a junior on the roster. Sanders and Green were true freshmen last season. Dubinion is a true freshman this season. The room also has redshirt freshman Javion Hunt and true freshman James Jointer. Joe T. Robinson three-star Daryl Searcy will be a preferred walk-on who enrolls this summer.
Johnson rushed 97 times for 575 yards and seven touchdowns last season while eventually earning the starting spot. He also added seven receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Sanders carried 114 times for 578 yards and five touchdowns while also catching 11 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Green had 47 carries for 227 yards and a touchdown while grabbing seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. Hunt had four carries for 19 yards.
Sanders has been impressed with both Dubinion and Jointer.
“I definitely say they’re good,” Sanders said. “They came in the room and was ready to learn. Definitely James, both of them definitely, but James coming as a back, and I’m a big back as well, the key thing with him is me telling him to finish runs. This goes for all the running backs, but especially him, finish runs because he’s a big running back always staying low. It’s the same thing as high school, but only a bigger level. You are playing against people with the same talent as you. So it comes down to just make sure you finish runs because that’s going to execute in the game.”
In high school last fall, Dubinion carried 180 times for 1,565 yards and 22 touchdowns while helping lead his team to a state title. He also caught 10 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Jointer carried 183 times for 1,309 yards and 16 touchdowns while catching three passes for 34 yards. Jointer had to play both ways and had 50 tackles and one pass breakup on defense. Searcy helped lead the Senators to a state title. He rushed 159 times for 1,302 yards and 16 touchdowns while catching 13 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, Searcy had 73 tackles, 32 solo, 11 for loss, a sack, one pass breakup, two forced fumbles and a recovered one.
Green agrees with Pittman that the competition in the room is good for all involved.
“I definitely think it’s a healthy competition for all of us because we’re all just pushing each other to be the best we can and feeding off of each others’ energy,” Green said. “Thing is with us, like, we all help each other with things we see in the backfield. Like, they come off the field, we’ll tell them this or that. Then they go back out there and make the right play or make a little bit of an adjustment. Like I said, we’re all just helping each other, and it’s really a healthy competition.”