Arkansas Razorbacks still looking for No. 2 option at running back behind Rakeem Boyd - Trelon Smith, Josh Oglesby
football Edit

Hogs still looking for No. 2 option behind Boyd

Josh Oglesby is making the transition from the track to the football field.
Josh Oglesby is making the transition from the track to the football field. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — There is very little mystery surrounding who will be Arkansas’ starting running back in 2020.

Not only is Rakeem Boyd the obvious choice for that role, but he’s also on the shortlist for the Razorbacks’ best players and a legitimate All-SEC candidate.

Coming off a 1,133-yard season, he considered leaving school and entering the NFL Draft. Instead, he chose to return for his senior year, giving Arkansas an explosive playmaker whose career average of 6.1 yards per carry ranks third in UA history behind only Felix Jones and Matt Jones.

With Boyd leading the group, the depth behind him at running back is the biggest question facing Sam Pittman and his staff as they enter their first season.

Two weeks into camp, the first-year head coach sounds confident that he’ll have an “adequate” No. 2 running back. Boyd was limited to only a handful of carries as a precaution in the first scrimmage Friday, which gave Pittman a good look at some of the other option.

After a year spent on the scout team because NCAA transfer rules required him to redshirt, Trelon Smith is thought to be the frontrunner to share carries with Boyd.

“Trelon Smith is just a tough man,” Pittman said. “He's tough on the field, he's tough off the field. That's his personality.”

Even though they’re both from the Houston area and only a year apart in school, Smith said he knew of Boyd, but didn’t know him personally before transferring to Arkansas from Arizona State.

They immediately hit it off and now travel with each other when they go back home. They also work out and train together when back in Houston.

“I can’t wait to see what we can do,” Smith said. “I’m planning on breaking some records, that’s our goal. Rakeem, that’s my big brother. I came in and ever since I got here, Rakeem put me under his wing and we started hanging out every day.”

Another running back in the mix is redshirt freshman A’Montae Spivey, but he was held out of Friday’s scrimmage with an undisclosed injury. Arkansas fans got a glimpse of him last year thanks to the NCAA’s new redshirt rule, as he rushed for 24 yards on seven carries, and Pittman said he will help in the rotation this year.

Perhaps the most intriguing running back on the roster is Josh Oglesby. A redshirt sophomore, the speedster out of Katy, Texas, has spent the last two years on the Razorbacks’ track team.

As a freshman in 2019, Oglesby earned first-team All-America honors as the opening leg of Arkansas’ 4x100-meter relay team that finished fourth in the NCAA Indoor Championships. He was also clocked at 6.74 seconds in the 60-meter dash at the SEC Indoor Championships, a time that tied for the 10th fastest in UA history.

“Oglesby was a great addition to us,” Pittman said. “He's a very strong runner. He's not a great big guy, but obviously everybody knows he's fast. He's a very tough runner.”

To say he’s not a “great big guy” would be an understatement. He’s listed at 5-foot-8, 174 pounds, making him the shortest player on the roster and one of the five lightest players - with wide receiver Jaquayln Crawford (5-10, 172) being the only other scholarship player who weighs less.

Smith describes him as a scatback, a term for running backs who are fast and elusive and not known for their size.

“He gets the ball and he’s like a rocket - he’s going to shoot out of there,” Smith said. “He’s very fast… I’m just excited to see what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands Game 1.”

Many thought T.J. Hammonds would have a role like that as a fifth-year senior this season, but based on the media’s limited viewing periods and video shared by the UA, it seems like he’s spending most of his time at receiver.

Instead, the only other scholarship running back on the roster is true freshman Dominique Johnson. Unlike Oglesby, what jumps out about the three-star signee from Crowley, Texas, is his size.

At 240 pounds, Johnson is by far the Razorbacks’ heaviest running back, checking in 34 pounds heavier than Boyd. In fact, he’s heavier than all of Arkansas’ linebackers. His 6-foot-1 frame is also tied with Spivey for the biggest in the running backs room.

In Friday’s scrimmage, Smith said he bounced off tackles and Pittman was pleased with the athleticism he showed in addition to his size.

“He doesn't have the speed those other guys do, but he's not a rock'em, sock'em, run over the top of you (type of back),” Pittman said. “He can make you miss as well.”

Johnson would likely be considered a redshirt candidate in a normal year, but the NCAA has granted all players - whether they actually play or not - an extra year of eligibility, so no one has been ruled out in the battle to be Boyd’s backup.