FAYETTEVILLE — Senior running back Rakeem Boyd opted to return to the University of Arkansas instead of entering the 2020 NFL Draft.
Count Sam Pittman among those pleased to have him back. One could also include Jimmy Smith, who coaches the running backs, among that group. Boyd is also pleased to have Smith as his position coach.
On Thursday night, Pittman talked about Boyd and Smith connecting at the running back spot.
“I know he’s gotten better,” Pittman said. “All I could see from last year was game tape. But Jimmy is a very knowledgeable coach. At Georgia State his running back may have led the conference in rushing. But Jimmy has been a great coach for a long time and I think he relates to him. A good coach is a great teacher and Jimmy is very knowledgeable. But just because your knowledgable doesn’t mean you can get it across to your player. You have to be a really quality teacher and that’s what I think he’s doing with Rakeem. And Rakeem trusts him. And so they are working well together along with the other running backs, too.”
As a junior, Boyd carried 184 times for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching 19 passes for 160 yards. Reportedly one of the things the NFL felt that Boyd needed to do better was catch the ball. Pittman doesn’t necessarily agree with the NFL.
“I was really shocked about the report we got back,” Pittman said. “I wasn’t shocked at the time I got the report back from the NFL scouting service, I just thought maybe he doesn’t have very good hands. That’s not the case. He catches the ball easily, and we just need to highlight that for our football team and of course for his NFL draft future. Both of them are important, and certainly he’ll help us win catching the ball out of the backfield. But he’s a natural at catching the football.”
Pittman once again reiterated the Hogs are going to do things to help Boyd showcase his skills to the NFL.
“I’m really proud of Rakeem,” Pittman said. “I’m proud that he came back to be a part of our football team I’m proud of the way he practices. He’s not the most vocal leader but he doesn’t have to be. He really has good vision. And some of the things that we talked about in the NFL that might take him down a round or something like that, we are putting him in position to be excellent at that.
“Our job is to win football games and to get our kids as good as they possibly can be on and off the field but if that means we can run him up a round or two up in the NFL draft that’s our job as well. So when we brought him in, let’s get a little better at pass protection. Let’s be able to run some routes out of the backfield and catch the ball and things of that nature. He’s really took to that. He ran a nice little route yesterday in practice for a touchdown.”
Pittman also feels that Boyd will have some quality help at running back with such players as Trelon Smith, Josh Oglesby, A’Montae Spivey and Dominique Johnson.
“Trelon Smith has really been a pleasant – I wouldn’t say surprise because anybody that knows him knows he’s a tough guy and a physical player,” Pittman said. “And then Spivey has done well for us. We’re proud of Dominque Johnson. He’s a freshman and he’s come in as a big back. We felt we needed to add another big back to our program and he’s done a nice job. I’m really pleased with that group. Jimmy Smith is coaching them and he’s done an excellent job with them.”
The Razorbacks will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 26, in Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Georgia. The kickoff will be at 3 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network.