Coaching turnover hasn't slowed Boyd

Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd (5) carries the ball for a 52-yard touchdown during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.

Adjusting to a coaching change is nothing new for Rakeem Boyd.

The University of Arkansas fifth-year senior running back has plenty of experience with coaching turnover in his college career.

Sam Pittman, who was hired at Arkansas on Dec. 6, is the fifth head coach Boyd has played under since he signed with Texas A&M.

That total includes Barry Lunney Jr., who was the Razorbacks' interim coach for the final two games in 2019 after Chad Morris was fired 10 games into his second season at Arkansas following a 45-19 loss to Western Kentucky.

Kevin Sumlin was the Aggies' coach when Boyd spent the 2016 season redshirting at Texas A&M as a true freshman.

Boyd then transferred to Independence (Kan.) Community College, where in 2017 he played for Coach Jason Brown and rushed for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games.

The last two seasons when Boyd played for Morris and Lunney, he rushed for a combined 1,867 yards.

The high turnover rate of coaches, Boyd said, hasn't been a problem for him.

"I thought about that the other day," Boyd said last week during a Zoom call with reporters. "It helps out a lot.

"I have learned a lot from Sumlin, I've learned a lot from Coach Brown. Coach Pittman has already been here, and even Chad Morris from that standpoint.

"I mean, I've learned a lot in every single category. It has been a struggle, but it's also been a blessing on top of it.

"You learn what each coach has got to offer and what he's about."

Pittman, speaking on the Zoom call before Boyd, said he didn't know what Boyd was would say about playing for so many different coaches.

"He'll know the answer better than I do," Pittman said. "But I do know this, that we're really happy he came back.

"He has great leadership skills. He's motivated. I love him. I'm very, very excited to see him perform this year and I'm very happy he's an Arkansas Razorback."

Boyd, who last season rushed 184 times for 1,133 yards and 8 touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 160 yards, considered entering the NFL Draft, but decided to return to Arkansas after meeting with Pittman and the new coaching staff.

"He's working extremely hard and obviously he knows what this senior season holds for him and for the football team," Pittman said. "The better he is the better our football team is going to be as well and the people around him.

"I've been really, really excited for him and I think he's going to have a heck of a football season."

Boyd had touchdown runs last season of 74 yards at Kentucky and 76 and 86 yards against Western Kentucky. He was the first Razorback to have two rushing touchdowns of 76 ore more yards in the same season since Felix Jones in 2006.

"I'm expecting an incredible season," Arkansas redshirt junior cornerback Montaric Brown said about Boyd. "Rakeem is the best running back in the conference to me, so I'm expecting great things for him."

Brown said speed is what impresses him most about Boyd.

"A lot of people don't think Rakeem is that fast, but Rakeem is very fast," Brown said. "It will surprise you and sneak up on you."

Boyd spent part of his time away from Arkansas when the athletic facilities were shut down while working out in his hometown of Houston with Justin Allen, the owner of Pro Fit gym who who trains NFL and NBA players.

"I've been knowing Justin Allen for a long time," Boyd said. "Even before A&M.

"We've just been in contact on social media and one day we finally met ... Ever since I got back in Houston I've just been training with him working on different stuff every day.

"I knew I needed to get in shape so I was like, 'OK let me come back in shape and be ready.' "

Boyd has played through a variety of injuries at Arkansas,

"Honestly, this is probably the best I've ever felt," he said. "This corona time is good for me, because I never really had an offseason where I could really work out.

"So having the time to work on my body and get myself healthy [is important], because this is my last one."

Pittman, a long-time offensive line coach, said Boyd is a dynamic and powerful runner who knows who can find a hole to get through.

"He can see the field," Pittman said. "He has outstanding vision."

The report the Arkansas coaches got from the NFL Draft Advisory Board listed the areas in which Boyd needs to improve.

"We need to get him more pass protection reps," Pittman said. "That'll help him in the league. We need to get him the ball out of the backfield so he can catch more [passes].

"Those are things that are in our offense certainly, and the better he is at those the higher his draft stock is going to be become."

Boyd said he has stayed in touch with Texas-San Antonio Coach Jeff Traylor, who was Arkansas' running backs coach the last two years.

"I talk to him probably twice a month," Boyd said. "It's a good talk every time we talk."