FAYETTEVILLE — Trelon Smith entered 2020 as the backup to Rakeem Boyd, but fast forward one year and he is at the top of the running back depth chart as the Razorbacks prepare for the 2021 season.
Smith is a redshirt junior who played in all 10 games last season including four starts. He carried 134 times for 710 yards and five touchdowns while also grabbing 22 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Following Tuesday’s practice, Smith talked about entering fall camp as the projected starter.
“Really nothing changed,” Smith said. “I just go out there everyday since I’ve been here I’ve kept my head down and worked hard. I just keep that same mindset. Every time I come out I try to stay neutral. I don’t want to go too high or too low. I just want to stay neutral. With me being that I’m able to teach the young guys and help them out as well. I feel that helps the room out.”
Smith talked about how he has approached the leadership role now that he is the starting running back.
“The leadership role I took it with open arms,” Smith said. “That’s something I wanted to do. I feel like I am a captain on this team. The young guys I have no problem doing it. They come to me with a question I can answer it for them. I always want them to know you don’t always have to go to Coach (Jimmy) Smith you can come to me as well. They know that. The young guys know that and it’s a real brotherhood in there. We all want to win and that’s the good thing about it.”
Coach Smith has been impressed with the leadership aspect of Trelon’s game.
“I’ll probably give you an answer you didn’t think you were going to get,” Smith said. “He was a leader last year. Trelon is that type of kid. He loves football. In the weight room, on the field, he’s going to go hard all the time. Although Rakeem (Boyd) was a good back and one of the guys we were depending on at the start of the year, Trelon practiced hard every day, went hard in the weight room every day. He’s a natural leader because he loves football, and he goes so hard. He wants to do well. He’s not selfish at all, which I really love.”
Smith was the leading rusher for the Hogs last season. Once Boyd opted out of the season then Smith became the featured back. He took advantage of it to the point he led the team in rushing eight of the 10 games. Josh Oglesby is one of the backs behind him and was impressed with how Smith took over the duties last fall.
“He took it and ran with it,” Oglesby said. “He didn’t look back. That’s what I love. He waited his time, his time came and he ran with it. He’s a guy that I look up to. I’m behind him and watch what he does. I watch his every move. I critique it and see if I can do it just as good or better. He’s a guy that comes into work every single day and works hard and you just know that’s what you’re going to get out of Trelon. Just as far as the whole running back room, we all want that same mentality. He’s a great leader. He’s a big brother to us, so he’s a guy we definitely follow behind.”
Coach Smith talked about what he wants Trelon to focus on this season.
“What I enjoyed about him last year is he continued to work no matter what,” Coach Smith said. “Whether he was the starter, the second guy, went in for a series, whenever he got an opportunity, he took advantage of it. This year, I anticipate him having a really good year. Not just because it’s his second year but because we’ve gotten better as a team offensively and defensively. So, I think he’s going to have a lot more opportunities, and he’s going to take advantage of them.”
Smith is 5-foot-9, 190-pounds. Some backs that size aren’t durable. What makes Smith so durable?
“He’s got heart,” Coach Smith said. “I gave him a nickname. I call him little big man. He doesn’t have any mirrors around the house I don’t think. He doesn’t know he isn’t big. When he plays ball, he plays like he’s the biggest guy there. He runs into the linebacker like the biggest guy. When he finishes a run, he’s not trying to figure out who’s bigger or smaller. He attacks everybody the same way. That’s a great thing to have. Honestly, that’s why it’s so important to have a second back because you have to have somebody who can take some of that off of him. He’s running so hard and playing so hard, you have to have another guy that can give him a break. If I had two of him, we’d be alright. But there’s only one of him.”
Arkansas has 23 seniors and many feel this could be Arkansas’ season. Smith is excited and not one to argue with that theory.
“Oh man, the direction we’re going man is going to be a beautiful thing once you guys see it,” Smith said. “Man, we’ve been busting our tail. Those losing days are over. We’re tired of losing. This whole team is tired of losing. It’s time to win now. That’s what Coach (Sam) Pittman has been pondering us on. Just relentless effort. Straining. Physicality. Fast. Playing fast. That’s our whole goal coming in this year coming into this season. We want to play fast, we want to be physical, we want to be relentless. This offseason, that’s what we’ve been focusing on. Coach Pittman, he like I said before, he pondered on us about being fast, being physical, being relentless, so when we go out there every day, that’s what we do. Man, and I feel like we’ve really got a good team. I really feel that way, and we’ve got a lot of old heads back, and that could be a good thing. That could be a good thing. I’m excited man. We’re going to see what we can do.”
The Razorbacks will return to the practice fields on Tuesday.