Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Don't hate on Boyd for opting out
Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd motions for a first down during a game against Missouri on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in Little Rock.
FAYETTEVILLE A candid quote from a 1980s fired Southern Illinois University basketball coach sprang to mind.
“If I made any mistake at all, it was probably coming here in the first place,” Allen Van Winkle said.
Even as he tweeted thanks to Razorbacks fans and coaches of the past Chad Morris regime and current Sam Pittman staff “for the best three years of my life,” feelings echoing that old Van Winkle quote likely lurk somewhere within Rakeem Boyd.
Not for his first two Arkansas years. This current one.
Especially if he follows social media. As a senior captain taking the “opting out” route the NCAA made easier in these coronavirus times, Boyd by some on message boards and presumably Twitter, too, is called “quitting on his team” with two games to play.
Boyd tweeted Tuesday he no longer plays for the Razorbacks and now solely prepares for the spring’s NFL draft.
Those same fans joyfully celebrated Boyd passing on entering the draft last spring to return off his great junior year. His return kindled hope in the Hogs.
As a 2018 sophomore junior college transfer, then a 2019 junior, Boyd starred lead rusher for sorry 2-10 overall, 0-8 SEC teams.
Timing seemed near perfect for Boyd entering the 2020 draft but he asserted he had unfinished Arkansas business to fulfill.
Pittman encouraged him fulfilling it.
Boyd returned vowing to help Arkansas winning SEC games, continuing as a team leader, and improving his NFL draft stock.
Parts 1 and 2 he accomplished. Especially leading by example, says Trelon Smith, Boyd’s replacement.
All victories for these 3-5 Hogs include Boyd contributions. Just not with Boyd’s 2019 five games exceeding 100 yards rushing impact.
Starting with Arkansas’ fledging offense opening overwhelmed by Georgia’s returning nationally leading defense, Boyd suffered a star-crossed season. He injured his ankle the first half of Game 2 and couldn’t play again until Game 4, still mending.
Only in the loss at Texas A&M did Boyd (18 carries for 100 yards) meet old form.
Then came his covid-19-related absence against LSU, and the Missouri game postponed last week until today in Columbia, Mo.
Boyd opted moving on.
Blame him some do, but these are different days. They were even before covid with the transfer portal.
Before bemoaning this generation of players lacking loyalty, how about so many recent years bowl teams with interim coaches because the head coach jumped ship to a better job?
Or college coaches pressuring high school seniors to graduate early and enroll in January, though perhaps they pledged to play high school basketball, baseball or run track.
A running back’s career seems most injury risked. Boyd risked it for Arkansas likely at a lower draft cost.
A nicer remembered Razorbacks legacy, of course, had he fully stayed the course. But wish Rakeem Boyd well.
Simply by returning he’s already taken one for the team.
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