If Arkansas is going to contend for the crystal football in 2012, running back Knile Davis will probably have to replicate his stellar season in 2010, when he led all SEC running backs with 1,322 rushing yards.
Davis fractured his ankle last August and hasn't participated in full contact work since.
That will change on Friday.
Chris Bahn of ArkansasSports360.com reports that Davis will be tackled to the ground in Friday's scrimmage, which is closed to the public.
That's not overly surprising.
Davis probably does need to test his ankle in a practice setting before doing so in a game, but head coach John L. Smith needed some convincing from Davis.
Smith said, via Bahn:
I'll be perfectly honest with you. My intent, after we get talking and watching and practicing and thinking every night, I finally came up with a deal that I'm not going to play him (until the game). And then he vetoed me. And that's perfectly honest.
I don't blame Smith for his desire to take that route. It's not something that I would do, but since Arkansas opens with Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe, it certainly makes sense.
Is Knile Davis the best running back in the SEC?
But the fact that Davis vetoed him shows that the junior running back has had enough with rehab and is ready to be considered 100 percent healthy—even if it carries the risk of further injury.
That has to excite Hogs fans.
Davis participating in full contact is an important step for him and the Hogs, but it's pretty clear that he's healthy. He was seen on YouTube squatting 600 pounds late last month.
I haven't squatted that much combined during my entire life, but I'm pretty sure having a healthy ankle is a prerequisite.
It's clear that Davis is itching to get back in the mix. His ability to make things happen on the ground and take some pressure off of quarterback Tyler Wilson—who ended up on his back on virtually every play last season—might be all that Arkansas needs to go from good to great.