Arkansas received great news when playmaking running back Alex Collins announced he had picked the Razorbacks over the Miami Hurricanes. Collins made the announcement on Fox Sports South, according to Dieter Kurtenbach of the Sun Sentinel. This is not just big for an offense that only returns four starters from a year ago, but this means it is going to be a successful career for the elite running back prospect.
Collins should have a brilliant career and a ton of yards playing under new head coach Bret Bielema and his coaching staff. While some may say it is hard to predict such an outcome for a coach who has never coached in the competitive SEC and is taking over a team that doesn't return much talent, this has the makings of a match made in heaven.
Although Bielema will have to earn his stripes in this conference before any respect is thrown his way, he recruits similar to an SEC head coach. He lives to run the football on offense and it all starts with nasty offensive linemen blocking up front. Just checkout what the former Wisconsin coach told The Sporting News a couple of years ago.
We’re not going to appeal to the sexy. Bielema told Sporting News in 2011. If a kid’s looking for bells and whistles, wants a weight room that looks like a club, we’re not the place. … We work, we grind, and we take pride in doing that. The kids who want that have gravitated to us.
He is off to a good start in his first offseason with his new program.
The offensive line will come, but Bielema has never quite had a back as talented as Collins is. A smaller runner at 5'11", 200 pounds, he has the ability to hit the home run every time he touches the football.
Shifty and elusive in the open field, Collins changes direction quickly and can make defenders miss with ease. He isn't the fastest player in the 2013 recruiting class, but he does have the ability to hit another gear once he gets behind the defense.
Overall, Collins brings the entire package to the table and he is arguably the most talented runner Bielema has ever had. Now, when you combine that with a coaching staff that has a long history of producing big time runners, Collins and the Arkansas running game are in terrific hands.
Running back coach Joel Thomas, who was just hired after spending the last four years with Washington, is in his first season on the job with the Razorbacks. In that time he spent with the Huskies, Thomas helped a runner reach 1,000 rushing yards each season. He also broke school records in the short amount of time he spent with Purdue and Louisville.
As the offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney has put together an impressive résumé as well. Familiar with the spread and pro-style offense, Chaney is one of the most creative play-callers in the country and has had success everywhere he has been. He helped Tennessee have the second best offense in the SEC last season and put up video game numbers at Purdue when Drew Brees was the quarterback.
When you combine the track record of those two coaches with Bielema and his commitment to running the ball, Arkansas is going to have success in the ground game.
We are talking about a former Wisconsin coach whose offense for 539 yards and only passed the ball 10 times in a Big Ten Championship victory over Nebraska. The Badgers have also been ranked no lower than third in the Big Ten in rushing offense since 2007.
It is pretty obvious that this coaching staff is going to game-plan to run the football like all successful SEC teams do. And with a back as talented as Collins, there is almost no way the success won’t continue on the ground. He will also have every opportunity to start right away with Knile Davis leaving for the NFL draft and the graduation of Dennis Johnson.
Collins could have taken the easy way out and paired up with another talented runner in Duke Johnson down in Miami. However, he wanted to be the lead guy and become the next great Arkansas running back. He made the correct decision and it will pay off in a big way for the Razorbacks and the overall production of Collins career.