Arkansas Razorbacks Running Backs Preview

Donald FincherAnalyst ISeptember 1, 2009

DALLAS - JANUARY 1: Darren McFadden #5 of the Arkansas Razorbacks carries the ball against the Missouri Tigers during the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1, 2008 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Chris Low of ESPN's SEC Blog says that Arkansas has the second best stable of running backs in the SEC.  Yes, the Razorbacks are stocked at running back for seasons to come.  

It's hard to believe that I'm writing that sentence so quickly after the departure of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis.  Last season was, after all, the first season without them in the backfield.  With the Nutt situation, the coaching search, the Cotton Bowl debacle, last year's growing pains, etc., it seems like much longer ago.

Fortunately for Arkansas, with these first two seasons of Petrino recruiting, Arkansas' stint with not having a loaded backfield will indeed be a short-lived one.

While Michael Smith is a senior and will be departing after this year, he is the only one of about seven high quality running backs on the roster.  Arkansas backfield includes the following names...

Returning Backs

Michael Smith - stepped up last year after McFadden and Jones left to contribute 1000+ yards on the ground

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Dennis Johnson - really came on strong late in the year (see the LSU game) but has been known to fumble

DeAnthony Curtis 


Broderick Green - transfer from none other than USC and can be that "big back" Petrino likes to use

Ronnie Wingo - chose Arkansas among many offers and can catch swing passes out of the backfield well

Kniles Davis

Arkansas indeed had a wealth of talent in the McFadden/Jones/Hillis era.  The duo of McFadden/Jones was the most prolific backfield in NCAA history other than the Reggie Bush/LenDale White years at USC.  

And while that sounds impressive, the problem was that, during the Nutt years, Arkansas was not known for or very prepared to be a passing attack and would have truly suffered had any of them gotten hurt (as was illustrated during the time when Hillis went down for so long with a deep thigh bruise).

Petrino is a better recruiter and strategizer than Nutt.  One such example of this is that in just his second season, Tyler Wilson will be the most able backup QB that Arkansas has had in a long, long time.  

Furthermore, for the first time in a long time, Arkansas is going to be a true passing threat.  And another example is the breadth of available running backs with different strengths (big back, swing pass catcher, small elusive back, etc.).

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