FAYETTEVILLE — Senior running back Rakeem Boyd is one of the reasons for Kendal Briles to have optimism for this fall’s offense.
Many thought Boyd would be waiting to hear his name called in this week’s NFL Draft, but instead he opted to return to the Razorbacks. As a junior, Boyd rushed 184 times for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching 19 passes for 160 yards. Briles is the new offensive coordinator at Arkansas and has been impressed with Boyd thus far.
“I’ve known Rakeem for quite awhile,” Briles said. “I recruited Houston when I was at another institution. I recruited Rakeem from high school. A very talented back. The thing about him he’s a really powerful runner but he’s got elusiveness as well. He’s got good ball skills. He’s got the drive. He’s got the want-to. He’s a big kid, 205 pounds, broad shoulders. And he’s got long speed. He can run. I think he’s an all-round every down back. Really excited to get on the field with him.”
Since spring practices were wiped out due to COVID-19, Briles hasn’t got to work with Boyd on the field. However, in the virtual meetings and off-season work he liked what he saw from Boyd.
“As a person I’ve been so pleased with his leadership,” Briles said. “He’s been successful. Probably only one of a handful of guys on the roster that have come back that have had a lot of production and a lot of success and he’s one of those guys. Those guys can do two things. They can pull down your team or they can really uplift your team. Rakeem is one of those guys that has led by example on a daily basis by being on time for workouts and busting his butt at all the workouts and what we were doing and then being very engaged once we were able to get a little bit of football. So Coach (Jimmy) Smith, our running backs coach is a tremendous coach. Just being a people person he and Rakeem have a great relationship. I’m excited for the future for Rakeem.”
Assuming there’s a season in 2020, Briles will get a chance to work with Boyd in the preseason. Is there a chance he, Smith and Sam Pittman limit Boyd’s work in the scrimmages?
“I think you cross that bridge when you get there,” Briles said. “I know going into spring we talked about that he is definitely not one of those guys we need to beat up. We know that he can play. But this offense is different. The terminology is different. The signals are different. The tempo is different.
“Rakeem is going to be one of those guys that we are going to have to hold him back if we do get to the point that we feel really comfortable with his knowledge and awareness of what we’re trying to get done. So he’s definitely going to be guy that he’s going to want to be full speed ahead.”
Boyd came to Arkansas from Independence (Kan.) Community College prior to the 2018 season. He originally attended Texas A&M out of Stratford (Texas) High School. He rushed for 6,436 yards and 80 touchdowns in high school. In 2017 at Independence, Boyd rushed for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games.
In 2018 at Arkansas, Boyd was limited to eight games due to injuries. He still rushed 123 times for 734 yards and two touchdowns and caught 23 passes for 165 yards.