Hogs' Knile Davis can't escape injuries

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
9:16
AM ET
The reports out of Arkansas are that the lower left leg injury suffered by star running back Knile Davis in Thursday's scrimmage is serious and that the Hogs will be without him this season.

Davis, who rushed for 1,322 yards last season, went down screaming Thursday on the seventh play of the scrimmage after being injured in a pileup. He was helped to the sideline and carted from the field.

Arkansas' policy is that head coach Bobby Petrino is the only one to comment about injuries, and Petrino has yet to make any statements.

Davis was a big reason the Hogs' offense took off last season after exploding onto the scene in October, but this latest injury is another in a long list of setbacks for the 6-foot, 226-pound junior. He broke his right ankle in high school and then broke that same ankle during his first spring practice at Arkansas. The screws from the first surgery weren't big enough for a guy Davis' size, which led to the second fracture. Davis has also broken his collarbone twice, once in high school and again during the Hogs' spring game last year, which is one of the reasons Davis wasn't on anybody's radar coming into last season.

One of the most respected players in the league, Davis endeared himself to his Arkansas teammates and coaches with how hard he ran and how hard he worked.

"I think what Knile really needs to understand is that the harder and more physical he runs and the faster he plays, that’s how you stay healthy,” Petrino said during the spring. “That’s what he did when Dennis [Johnson] got hurt last year. He just said, ‘I’m going to make sure the coaches know that I’m going to be the guy by finishing every run in practice and being more focused.’ It jumped out. We’re watching video of practice, and there’s not one coach in the room who doesn’t say, ‘That’s a little different No. 7 right there now.’ ”

Speaking of Johnson, getting him back is huge for the Hogs if Davis is indeed out for the season. Johnson, a 5-foot-9, 213-pound junior, is versatile and able to do different things out of the backfield. The onus is also on junior Ronnie Wingo, Jr., to step up and have his best season. One of the Hogs' fastest players, the 6-foot-3, 231-pound Wingo has shown flashes, but needs to do it consistently.

More than anything, the Hogs are going to need somebody to get the tough yards. They also lost Broderick Green to a torn ACL in the spring. The 244-pound Green was Arkansas' power back, but Davis scored 13 rushing touchdowns last season for the Hogs.

That's what made Davis so valuable. He was effective in the red zone and in short yardage, but also had the speed and the moves to break the long one.

Chris Low | email

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