FAYETTEVILLE — Sophomore running back AJ Green created a buzz when he chose Arkansas over Oklahoma and others coming out of Tulsa (Okla.) Union High School.
Green played in all 12 games in 2021 when he carried 47 times for 227 yards and a touchdown. Green also caught seven passes for 84 yards and one touchdown. This season Green has rushed 12 times for 61 yards and a touchdown which is third on the team. Green loves how Kendal Briles and Jimmy Smith are using variety with the running backs.
“Honestly, I’d say it just opens up more, it just really opens up our offense more really,” Green said. “Being able to spread the ball around to the receivers, running backs, second-string running backs, it’s just good for us honestly. And I think it’ll just spread the defense out more for us so we’ll be able to get more openings and more big runs and set up more plays off those.”
When Arkansas gets the running game rolling, much like they did in the first half and the fourth quarter against South Carolina, it’s very potent.
“Honestly, I would say that it just feels good because it’s the easiest — not easiest, the safest way to move the ball downfield, without putting it in the air, putting the ball in jeopardy,” Green said. “Being able to get behind a good offensive line, getting a good push and making sure we’re getting first downs and stuff like that, protecting the ball really.
“I would say that it also brings the offense to a better momentum. We steal the momentum. Like if a team has something going on and we can get our run game going, we just take the momentum from them.”
Green feels his game has improved from 2021 and hopes to keep that going rest of the season.
“I would definitely say I feel way more comfortable this year.} Green said. “I feel like I’m better prepared for the season and I was able to get my body right for SEC football and I’ve just been feeling good, really.”
Green was a four-star recruit out of Union High School. He said the years Bobby Petrino, Arkansas’ opponent on Saturday, were definitely brought up to him.
“Oh yes,” Green said. “They always way tried to speak on that stuff because obviously Arkansas wasn’t where they wanted to be. He just always talked about how they wanted to build a new team and start fresh. I always wanted to be a part of that. That’s one of the reasons I came here.”
Arkansas has it heading in the right direction now though ranked No. 10 in the nation. Green is obviously pleased with that.
“I would say, yeah I mean we’re in the top 10, but I think the whole team is still just hungry,” Green said. “We’re never satisfied with that. Obviously, we got to No. 8 last year and then made some mistakes and we dropped a lot. We’re just trying to make sure we don’t make those mistakes again, because we know where we could’ve been last year. This year we’re going to make sure, obviously, that we keep going, keep rolling, keep going up in the rankings. We’re still never going to be satisfied, even if we end up No. 1. We’re just going to keep playing our football.”
Green, Rocket Sanders and Rashod Dubinion have rotated at running back so far. Dominique Johnson is set to join that rotation at some point, possibly Saturday.
“Honestly, I think the running back room is just great,” Green said. “We have a lot of good backs, even the ones that are not even getting into the games, they’re really good backs. Like if you watch our practice and watch them down on scout team, they’re giving their all and doing all we work on in indy and stuff. At game time, all our backs are ready to go. I would say that we don’t really have a weakest link.”
Arkansas (2-0) will host Missouri State (2-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 on ESPN+/SECN+.