Andy Hodges

Experience, leadership, make Boyd leader of offense, not any QB

It sounded like Kendal Briles has a pretty good idea who will be the main leader of Arkansas’ offense when they finally get back to campus and it won’t be a quarterback.

It sounded like Kendal Briles has a pretty good idea who will be the main leader of Arkansas’ offense when they finally get back to campus and it won’t be a quarterback.

That’s not a knock on any of them.

Rakeem Boyd has put himself in that position by coming back for his senior year, which is something you don’t see in this day and age of getting out of college as fast as possible.

“Probably only one of a handful of guys on the roster that have come back that have had a lot of production and a lot of success and he’s one of those guys,” Briles said Friday about Boyd. “Those guys can do two things. They can pull down your team or they can really uplift your team.”

Just so we’re clear, Boyd is one of the guys who is on the good side of that.

“Rakeem is one of those guys  that has led by example on a daily basis by being on time for workouts and busting his butt at all the workouts,” Briles said of the off-season drills before the forced break due to the COVID19 virus.

He’s kept up in that pace in the virtual time the team is starting to have more and more of with the increase to eight hours a week starting next week.

Boyd has been “very engaged once we were able to get a little bit of football,” Briles said.

He’s been one of the bright spots the past two seasons. In 2018, when he was battling injuries most of the year, Boyd still had 734 yards rushing and another 165 in pass receptions.

Last season he broke out, though, carrying the ball 184 times for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns while also catching 19 passes for 160 yards.

Briles has seen the film. Probably several times for quite awhile.

“I’ve known Rakeem for quite awhile,” Briles said. “I recruited Houston when I was at another institution. I recruited Rakeem from high school. A very talented back.”

Briles has the same goal every coach wants to have offensively, which is run the ball first. That takes a running back that can find holes because just about every offensive line creates them these days with the less physical style of blocking most of the time.

Boyd provides that.

“He’s a really powerful runner, but he’s got elusiveness as well,” Briles said. “He’s got good ball skills. He’s got the drive. He’s got the want-to. He’s a big kid, 205 pounds, broad shoulders. And he’s got long speed. He can run. I think he’s an all-around, every down back.”

Usually the quarterback is the leader of the offense. It goes with the position. Briles, though, is in a unique position of only being able to look at things on film and graduate transfer Feleipe Franks is the expected starter, but nobody knows at this point.

“We just want to see him throw a football,” Briles said Friday about Franks. “That’s the craziest thing, you know … I’ve been around him since January, and haven’t seen him throw a football because we haven’t had the opportunity to be able to do that.

“It’s kind of important to play that position. We’d like to be able to see that.”

And it’s not just Franks. He hasn’t seen any of them in what is becoming a crowded room.

“Those guys are all in the same boat,” Briles said.

Which has put Boyd into being the leader of the offense.

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