Arkansas RB coach building pipeline

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, February 18, 2021

— Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith is looking to build a pipeline for the Razorback football program at the Georgia high school where he won state titles in 2016 and 2018.

Smith is off to a great start after landing the pledge of Cedar Grove four-star athlete Rashod Dubinion (5-10, 190, 4.3), who privately committed to Arkansas on Jan. 26 and then publicly announced the pledge on Saturday.

He is also after three other Cedar Grove four-star prospects in defensive end Joshua White (6-5, 260), wide receiver Janiran Bonner (6-3, 200) and defensive tackle Christen Miller (6-5, 285).

All four are top 200 players nationally in the 2022 class per 247 or Rivals and were standouts for Cedar Grove head coach Miguel Patrick, a former assistant of Smith’s who won a state championship in 2019 in his first year as the program’s boss.

“Coach Smith has done a great job in recruiting us,” Patrick said. “…The biggest thing about it is that they know he is a solid guy and that he is going to be real with them in whatever he says. It is not just going to be recruiting jargon. He really is going to get to know them and take care of them.”

Patrick doesn’t rule out Smith landing all four of the Cedar Grove standouts, none of whom have been able to visit Arkansas.

“All the guys that he is recruiting are four-star prospects,” Patrick said. “I was joking with him that if you get all of these guys then it is really going to wake some people up.

“They haven’t been out to Arkansas as far as touching the dirt, but he has done a great job in sending them pictures and doing the virtual stuff. We had already heard about how great the facilities and stuff are out there.

“And then (Arkansas head) Coach (Sam) Pittman, we know him from being back in Georgia and know what a solid guy and stand up guy he is as a head coach. It is just a great fit for my guys.”

Dubinion chose Arkansas over a group of finalists that also included Georgia, LSU, Florida, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech and Purdue.

He also had offers from Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State and others.

Dubinion, ranked 192 by Rivals, had 72 carries for 536 yards and nine touchdowns, and 8 catches for 129 yards and three touchdowns in a junior season that was limited to five games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“If I had to describe Rashod in one word, it would be explosive,” Patrick said. “In more ways than one, he can change the game in a second. He can score from anywhere on the field – from the backfield, from the slot receiver, if you spread him out wide he can score from there, and he also can change the game in the return game.”

Dubinion, who had 700 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, became the fourth Arkansas 2022 pledge. The others are Greenland defensive end JJ Hollingsworth (6-4, 250), Dewitt tight end Dax Courtney (6-6, 212) and Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes offensive lineman Eli Henderson (6-5, 290).

White, the nation’s 222nd-best junior per Rivals, has narrowed his list to a final six of Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio State, Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State

“Joshua is a defensive end that is, again, just one of those kids that can absolutely change a game,” Patrick said. “He led us in sacks and tackles for lost yardage. He is about 6-5, 260. He is one of those guys that just has a great get off, is real powerful at the line of scrimmage against the run and is a great pass rusher.”

Miller, ranked 116th nationally by 247, is another highly-sought after junior with Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Ole Miss, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan State, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Indiana among his suitors.

Ranked 200th by 247, Bonner is being recruited by Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Baylor, Colorado, South Carolina, East Carolina and others.

“Janiran is 6-3, 200-pound receiver that has the speed, the athleticism, the power,” Patrick said. “He is just a real physical receiver that can take a five-yard hitch, run through the cornerback and then outrun the safety. He is a man-child of a receiver.”

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