Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America, and was awarded 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Boyd confident in improved physique, Hogs' backfield
Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd goes through a drill in practice Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Rakeem Boyd offered up an honest assessment of his physique during his second season at Arkansas in 2019.
After the Razorbacks’ first preseason practice under first-year football head coach Sam Pittman on Monday, Boyd said he believes he played a bit on the heavy side as a junior. The tailback was listed at 213 pounds, according to Arkansas’ roster.
Regardless, he ran for better than 1,100 yards, eight touchdowns and at one point led the SEC in rushing as Arkansas played its way through the second full month of the schedule. Entering a critical year in regards to his draft stock and dreams of playing in the NFL, Boyd is at his ideal playing weight, 206 pounds.
He is feeling better than ever physically.
“This year, I think I'm seeing a 4-pack. I think I'm seeing a 6-pack,” Boyd joked during a Zoom conference with reporters. “I’ve never seen one of those before on my body. My body has been different. I think I'm just ripping up or something.
“It's a different strength program and I love these guys. They do all the things we need. If you see me at 215, I probably ate a pizza before I got on the scale.”
On top of that, in another Zoom conference last week, Razorbacks offensive coordinator Kendal Briles spoke highly of Boyd, complimenting the senior’s character and willingness to lead. He believes Boyd is an all-around, every-down back.
“He’s been unbelievable. He’s been really, really good,” Briles said. “Not just with the running back group or offense – he’s been a great teammate overall. I can’t say enough good things about Rakeem and how he’s been.”
Briles and Boyd are both optimistic about the running backs as a whole, too. Behind Boyd sits Arizona State transfer Trelon Smith, a 5-8, 185-pound runner the previous coaching staff often praised for his work on scout team; redshirt freshman A’Montae Spivey; redshirt senior T.J. Hammonds; and true freshman Dominique Johnson.
Josh Oglesby, a native of Katy, Texas, who competed in the 60 meters as a member of Arkansas’ men’s track and field team as a sophomore, is also in the mix at the position.
Boyd and Smith, who worked out together regularly during the offseason, share a close bond. As Pittman has in the past, Boyd commended Smith’s work ethic.
“That's a guy I look at and (say), ‘Are you straight? Are you good?’ I care what he does,” Boyd added. “I mean, I could look over at him and he could be dead tired and he's going to say, 'Rakeem, let's go. You know what we've got to do.'
“At the end of the day it's love between him and me, but we know we're competing. The whole running back group is competing and it's a great job. … I can see (Smith having a bright) future here.”
Spivey, who totaled just 24 yards on seven carries in limited action in 2019, has impressed Boyd to this point, noting that their running styles are very similar. Johnson, too, possesses some positive traits for a newcomer.
“(He is) big and fast,” Boyd said. “He has good vision – really good vision. He reminds me of myself with the vision he's got. He's got some real good vision as a freshman, and that's big time.
"You have all those packages as a running back, you get to do more things. You get to be a first-down, second-down and third-down back.”
While Briles is confident Boyd is an every-down back, Boyd says he is still striving toward becoming one. This summer, Briles and Pittman both noted Boyd should aim to be more sure handed out of the backfield and improve in pass protection.
If he does, the sky is the limit. And playing at a comfortable weight will certainly aid him in accomplishing his goals.
“I’ve still got to work on things,” Boyd said. “Jimmy Smith is a great dude, a great running backs coach. I'm doing stuff I've never done before and it's making me better.
“It's good. All around, it's good this year."
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