FAYETTTEVILLE — A bigger Raheim “Rocket” Sanders is hoping for a big 2023 season.
Sanders is listed at 6-foot-2, 237-pounds on Arkansas’ spring roster. Sanders is coming off a sophomore season that saw him rush for 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns on 222 carries. Sanders also caught 28 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Sanders said Thursday he’s still a Rocket at 237 pounds.
“It’s muscle,” Sanders said. “I ain’t going to lie, it’s muscle. With the (nutrition) staff getting me right, I’m not trying to get too big, you know, but I’ve still got the speed.”
Sanders then talked about the idea weight he wants to play at this fall.
“Really, I’d probably say probably in the range of 230-235, but really I’m moving good right now,” Sanders said. “I’m moving good with my weight, and they say I’m moving good as well.”
Sanders and the running backs are running behind various combinations on the offensive line this spring as Sam Pittman and Cody Kennedy try to find the five best after losing three starters in the offseason.
“Actually great, man,” Sanders said. “We got new a offensive coordinator, a great guy as well, new plays, so I feel like everybody is learning. I feel like they’re doing good. Definitely young guys, throwing them in there, as well as everybody else that’s young as well. But I feel like the offensive line is going to be great this year.”
Arkansas has very good depth at running back. He exited the AutoZone Liberty Bowl early with an injury. Rashod Dubinion stepped in and carried 20 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns while catching three passes for 19 yards. AJ Green carried 13 times for 99 yards and a touchdown while grabbing four passes for 30 yards. Dominique Johnson is still rehabbing from an ACL injury. In 2021, Johnson rushed for 575 yards and started six games. What Dubinion and Green did in the bowl game impressed Sanders.
“That was great,” Sanders said. “I had a lot of confidence in them, you know what I mean? I feel like coach prepared me, prepared those guys in practice for times like that. Every player is not guaranteed for a play so at the end of the day, I had a lot of confidence in them. Dom as well. Me and him were talking over there during the game about it and I feel like they had a chip on their shoulder and had to show everyone what they were about.”
Sanders also talked about his personal points of emphasis entering his junior campaign.
“Well I feel like with pass protection and just being comfortable with that,” Sanders said. “I feel like that’s going to help me in the long run and just help the offensive line and help me as well with them communicating. I’d say pass pro and just trusting it like I was last year, but trusting it even more and just not second-guessing myself.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday.