Mailbag: Rawleigh Williams injury, stadium naming rights, best pro and more

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams carries the ball during a game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
( Stephen B. Thornton)
Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams carries the ball during a game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

Do you feel that with another 6-6, 7-5 football season that fan apathy level will be as low as it has been since Danny Ford? - hog2009

I really don't sense that fans are apathetic about the football team. If they were, there wouldn't be increasing ticket sales, the demand for new seats, etc.

I think a 6-6 or 7-5 season could hurt Bret Bielema's recruiting and job security, but Arkansas is nowhere near as inept as it was in the 1990s. The interest probably is at or near an all-time high given the amount of exposure and increase in student enrollment.

Will Rawleigh Williams continue to play football? - StillGregHog

I don't think anyone can say that definitely at this point. I do think there is a chance he might not play again - Tom Murphy reported yesterday that he would meet with doctors and coaches this week to discuss his future - and no one could blame him if that is what ends up happening. Personal health is much more valuable than playing a game. And because his injury is related to his sport, he is going to have his education paid for regardless of whether he plays another down.

My guess is Rawleigh wants to continue playing, but the key voices in the decision are going to be from his family and his doctors. Even if the most recent injury was unrelated to the one in 2015, he has now had multiple neurological injuries. That's scary.

As for the family component, I had a former coach talk to me about this subject earlier this week. He pointed out that Williams' mother was against him playing again after the first injury, which has been widely reported. The former coach told me something to the extent of, "In my years recruiting and coaching, I observed that a child might be able to override the mom on a big decision once, but it usually doesn't happen twice."

There is no doubt that whatever the decision ends up being, it's going to be a difficult one for everyone involved.

After the last two weeks, how likely is it that Arkansas baseball team will be able to host a regional or super regional? - BeachedHawg

I think there still is a good chance for that to happen if Arkansas finishes the regular season strong. The Razorbacks are one of seven teams either in a tie for first or within a game of first place in the conference, and have a winnable series coming up at Tennessee.

I've said all along that I think the top four teams in the conference will get a regional host spot, and possibly more. The RPI is an important component to regional site selections. Arkansas is No. 16 RPI right now and has a chance to boost that with six of the remaining nine games on the road, where wins are worth double and losses are worth half of the same results at home.

Does Piggly Wiggly have the budget for that? All kidding aside, I would not be surprised to see a corporate sponsor for a stadium at Arkansas because it is becoming a trend across college athletics. In addition to Kentucky's partnership with Kroger, New Mexico announced plans this week to rename its football stadium and basketball arena for Dreamstyle Remodeling, which paid $10 million for the rights over 10 years. If a place as famous as The Pit can be renamed, then it can happen just about anywhere.

Arkansas has shown it is willing to namesake a stadium if the money is right. What it hasn't shown is the willingness to change it for a corporation, at least not yet.

We know Austin Allen is the clear starter but is anyone pushing him? How far away are either of the other two QBs from AA? - HogQ

I think Austin is head and shoulders above the backups, both in talent and ability to run the offense. We saw a few times last season how bad the offense looked when Austin came out of the game. I don't know that there will be that big of a drop-off in 2017, but I still think it's steep.

Has Joe Johnson had the best pro career of any Hoop Hog in school history? - hog2009

I'd make an argument that Sidney Moncrief had a better all-around career than Johnson. Moncrief should be in the Naismith Hall of Fame, in my opinion, as a five-time all-star and two-time NBA defensive player of the year, in addition to his college accolades.

Johnson has had a good career and should be commended for the longevity, but I think his legacy will benefit from being a great scorer in an offensive-driven era that had every game on TV and every highlight immediately available on social media.

Isn't this the year for Nike to tweak/update the uniform? - HooDoo Hog

Yes, and that's not just for football. Every team at Arkansas should receive new uniforms in the 2017-18 school year.

Which, if any, sport should they add at Arkansas? - Jamie

Adding a sport is an expensive and complex undertaking that has to take into account several considerations, such as Title IX. I don't see Arkansas adding another sport any time soon and if it ever did, I think it would be a sport that could utilize an existing facility.

I see Arkansas putting its money more into debt services to enhance the sports already being played.

What have you heard with Brooks Ellis? Is he trying for free-agency or is he just going to pursue his medical career? - Roger

When I spoke to Brooks about this prior to last football season, he made it known that he wanted to try the NFL, but he also was already looking into medical schools. He might get a training camp invitation, but I don't think he'll pursue football too long.

Do you have any inside info on what Daryl Macon is thinking? - Brad

Nothing other than what has been reported on our site, which is that overseas appears to be a draw for him. I don't think his mind has been made one way or the other. He still has a few weeks to decide.

Have a question for next week's mailbag? Email Matt Jones at mojones@nwadg.com.

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