FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas returns a nice blend of talent and experience at running back in 2018, but Chad Morris and his staff are still searching for more help at the position.
The Razorbacks extended three more new offers to running backs over the last week, and at least four targets will take official visits in Fayetteville later this month.
One of the latest offers went to JUCO talent Rakeem Boyd of Independence (Kan.) Independence Community College. Boyd, 6-0, 200, was a four-star prospect when he signed with Texas A&M out of Houston (Texas) Stratford in 2016. He redshirted as a freshman before academic shortcomings forced him to reset at Independence C.C. in 2017.
Now back on track in the classroom, Boyd has added new scholarship offers from Arkansas and Colorado, two programs that offered him as a high school target. Boyd plans to be in Fayetteville for an official visit on January 19-21.
Deneric Prince, 6-1, 200, is another running back with Texas A&M ties who plans to visit the Razorbacks before making a final decision. He has been committed to the Aggies since early June, but that pledge was given to Kevin Sumlin’s staff.
Texas A&M’s new head coach, Jimbo Fisher, extended new offers to a pair of running backs shortly after taking over in College Station last month, forcing Prince to weigh other options in case things don’t work out with the Aggies.
Prince, who had 995 yards of offense and 11 total touchdowns as a senior, is teammates with two more top Arkansas targets who are currently committed to Texas A&M in four-star wide receiver Jalen Preston and heavily-recruited safety-outside linebacker Brian Johnson.
Preston and Johnson are expected to visit Fayetteville with Prince, but a date for those visits hasn’t yet been set in stone.
Prince was offered by Morris’s former staff early on at SMU, making him a longtime target of the new head Hog.
The Razorbacks are also targeting a talented tailback from Louisiana, as Vinton High’s Tony St. Julien is expected to make a trip to Fayetteville sometime over the next few weekends. St. Julien, 6-2, 190, is a small-town product whose offer list consists of several big-name programs, including Georgia, TCU, Tennessee and several others. He is being recruited by new Arkansas running backs coach Jeff Traylor, who had built a relationship with St. Julien during his time at Texas and SMU.
Charles Strong, 6-1, 220, is a big-time target from Gainesville (Fla.) Union County who plans to visit the Razorbacks on the final weekend before signing day, Feb. 2-4.
Strong, who rushed for 1,388 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, will see Ole Miss and Texas A&M on official visits prior to landing in Northwest Arkansas. The former Florida State commitment held other offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Miami, Louisville and many others.
There is at least one more running back – a four-star target on HawgSports.com and Rivals.com – who is currently committed to another Power 5 program and requested to keep his Arkansas visit plans off the radar, for now.
The unnamed tailback is another longtime target of Morris’ staff.
Arkansas will return three of its top running backs in 2018, including juniors-to-be Devwah Whaley and T.J. Hammonds, and sophomore-to-be Chase Hayden. Whaley was the Hogs’ second leading rusher with 559 yards and seven touchdowns. Hayden had 326 yards and four touchdowns before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 7, and Hammonds finished with 262 yards and a touchdown while averaging 8.1 yards-per-carry on the year. Maleek Williams redshirted in his first season on the Hill last fall.