Boyd ready to make most of second SEC chance

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2018
Independence Community College running back Rakeem Boyd carries the ball during the Midwest Classic Bowl game against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Miami, Okla.
Photo by Independence Community College
Independence Community College running back Rakeem Boyd carries the ball during the Midwest Classic Bowl game against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Miami, Okla.

It turns out you do get a second chance to make a first impression -- at least when it comes to Arkansas tailback signee Rakeem Boyd, who will arrive in Fayetteville with three years to play for the Razorbacks.

Boyd (6-foot, 200 pounds), who rushed for 6,436 yards and a whopping 80 touchdowns in his three years at Houston Stratford, signed with Texas A&M out of high school over offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona State and many others.

The first year didn't go well at all, even though former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and his assistants raved about Boyd's work in practice, especially in December bowl workouts.

The problem was that Boyd arrived in College Station late for fall camp after waiting for the NCAA Clearing House to rule him eligible. He then redshirted and soon dropped too many classes and found himself academically ineligible.

That necessitated a detour to junior college, and he soon matriculated to Independence County (Kan.) Community College, where he rushed for 1,211 and 14 touchdowns last season.

"This time around it is strictly business," Boyd said. "I have already been at this level once and I am not going to mess around like I did earlier. I've grown up, matured and am going to give it all I've got."

Boyd and College of the Canyons defensive end Dorian Gerald (6-3, 260), the two junior college and oldest signees in Arkansas' 2019 class, will both arrive in Arkansas in July.

So will Jonesboro offensive line signee Noah Gatlin. He was previously scheduled to arrive the first semester before coming down with mononucleosis in late May.

The other 13 members of the class either enrolled in January or reported this past weekend for the first semester of summer school.

Boyd ended his junior college season in style while rushing 34 times for 303 yards and one touchdown in his team's season finale. He carried 35 times for 215 yards and three scores in the Midwest Classic Bowl.

"The first few games I was banged up and I just had to get my mind right," Boyd said. "After I did, I just blew up and went with it. It was fun. The [offensive] line was creating holes and I was just hitting them and taking off."

While Arkansas may be missing depth in some areas in its first year under new coach Chad Morris, tailback is not one of those.

The Razorbacks have juniors Devwah Whaley and TJ Hammonds, sophomore Chase Hayden and redshirt freshman Maleek Williams in the fold with Boyd expected to arrive in Fayetteville on July 7 and join summer workouts.

"I am pretty excited to get up there and get to work, get to knowing the players, learn the system and just put myself in position to get on the field early," Boyd said. "I'm really just happy to be a part of the team.

"We have a great group of backs and the coaches have let me know that they have a plan for all of us. They play fast and run a lot of plays so I am sure all of us are going to be happy and contributing. Mostly, I'm sure we all just want to win."

Boyd has been putting in the work to stay in shape as to put his best foot forward in his new business investment with the Razorbacks.

"I have been working out with a trainer and just making sure I am in great shape," Boyd said. "That's a given. I am not going to let anything keep me from succeeding this time."

Sports on 05/31/2018

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