Thursday, February 27, 2014
Offseason spotlight: Arkansas
By Chris Low
It's Year No. 2 under Bret Bielema in Fayetteville, and the Hogs want to rev up that running game even more in 2014.
Spotlight: Running back Alex Collins, 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, rising sophomore
Arkansas RB Alex Collins rushed for 1,026 yards and four TDs in his freshman season.
2013 summary: Collins led the Hogs in rushing as a true freshman with 1,026 yards on 190 carries. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press.
The skinny: It's already been a bit rocky for Collins this offseason. Bielema announced earlier this month that Collins had been removed from the team for a week for an unspecified violation of team rules. More than anything, it sounded like a stern message for Collins, who will be going through his first spring practice at Arkansas. The Hogs need him to grow up both physically and mentally because he's poised to be the centerpiece of their offense. He showed what he was capable of last season right out of the chute and rushed for 100 yards in each of his first three games. He had 545 of his yards against SEC competition, so the Hogs would obviously like to see his production against SEC defenses improve. There's no reason it shouldn't given Collins' blend of power, vision and ability to break tackles. He's one of those backs who tends to get better the more he touches the football. The Hogs still have rising junior Jonathan Williams returning, and he rushed for 900 yards last season. Collins won't have to be a one-man show in the Hogs' backfield, but he is the guy they'd like to lean on next season. These next several months will dictate whether he's ready for that responsibility -- both on and off the field.