Sam Pittman didn’t inherit a lot in the way of offensive production when he arrived as Chad Morris’ replacement at Arkansas. But didn’t take him long to realize he needed to convince Rakeem Boyd to come back for his senior year. If Boyd could rush for over eleven hundred yards in an offense as anemic the 2019 group was, he’s somebody you’d want to keep. Boyd turned out to be Pittman’s biggest recruit.
“He has great leadership skills,” Pittman said of Boyd. “He’s motivated and I Iove him. I’m very, very excited to see him perform this year and I’m very happy he’s an Arkansas Razorback.”
Boyd surprised many when he decided to come back for his senior year after yet another coaching transition. As is turned out putting off the NFL for a year wasn’t a hard decision, he said. With Pittman as the head coach Boyd said he knew the offensive line was going to improve. Also Kendal Briles’ offenses have always thrived with talented running backs and Boyd already knew a lot about the Hogs’ new offensive coordinator.
“I’ve known him in high school,” Boyd said of Briles, “so I’d communicated with him a couple of times and his offense is a real high tempo offense. Jeff Traylor (Boyd’s previous position coach) knows him too. He talks well about him. So Kendal is a great guy.”
Pittman is well known for his commitment to send as many of his players to the NFL as possible. When Boyd decided to return to school Pitman quickly reached out to the NFL for a scouting report to help Boyd improve his draft stock in the 2020 season.
“We need to get him more pass protection reps,” Pitman noted. “That’ll help him in the league. We need to get him the ball out of the backfield so he can catch out out of the backfield. Those are things that are in our offense certainly and the better he is at those the higher his draft stock.”
But Boyd already had a head start on his needed development, working out back in Texas with other athletes during the COVID-19 shutdown.
“I’d go to wide receiver workouts, stuff like that,” Boyd recalled. “Just catch the ball with them and then pass blocking. I’ve also been trying to get stronger, really. You know what I mean? In the weight room so (I’m) just getting a bigger upper body.”
Boyd has a reputation of being fairly laid back but if you want to get him excited mention the improvement in size and conditioning he says he’s seen from the offensive line since Pittman and his staff arrived.
“As a running back when you see something like that you can’t do nothing but smile ’cause you know what’s going to happen during the season so those guys are in shape,” Boyd raved. “I’m very proud of them. That’s probably the most impressive group right now.”
Boyd is now working under his fourth coaching staff in four seasons since leaving high school. That would frustrate a lot of players but Boyd is quick to say he’s learned something from all of them and is a better player because of it. That’s a good example of why those who know him say he is not only one of the top returning running backs in college football for 2020, he is also one of the most coachable.