Bret Bielema has confirmed that veteran running back Kody Walker will be returning for his sixth and final season. This announcement helps the Arkansas backfield in a big way.
It’s okay, you can stop sweating now.
After the Arkansas Razorbacks announced the departure of star running back Alex Collins, people also started running around with the idea that Kody Walker would be leaving as well. Our running backs combined carried the ball 427 times; Walker and Collins were 361 of those carries. Losing two guys with numbers like that would have been hard to overcome.
So praise the Hog lord we don’t have to worry about that anymore. Bret Bielema confirmed that Kody Walker would be returning for his sixth and final season as an Arkansas Razorback.
Walker carried the ball 90 times with 394 yards and six touchdowns for the 2015 season. As the backup for Alex Collins, Walker was a reliable back that could power through almost anyone when we needed him too. Having him as another option for 2016 will be more than great.
So how big of a deal is this, you ask? Well, let’s look at who we would have had in our backfield if Walker departed. Whether Walker left or not our starting back would have most likely been Rawleigh Williams III. Williams should have an asterisk by his name due to his neck injury in the Auburn game of last season. Although there has been no indication that Williams will not play, there’s no guarantee that he will be able to start by the time the season begins.
Walker will still most likely be the backup to whoever our starter is, only due to the fact that a speedier back seems more fitting to a Bret Bielema offense.
Had Walker not stayed, our backup to a non-guaranteed Rawleigh would have been incoming true freshman Devwah Whaley. Having a sophomore and freshman are your go-to guys is definitely not something us Hog fans would have wanted. Keeping Kody around and adding to that needed depth is fantastic.
Other than Whaley and Rawleigh, the only other backs that we have are Denzell Evans and Juan Day. Day and Evans each got some playing time in the UT Martin win, but neither of them have really made steps since arriving at Fayetteville. There’s no telling whether or not they will make any impact in 2016.
I’m personally stoked that Walker is coming back. He’s a very unique back with his size, and he can destroy any defense with his power. Kody is basically a truck, and that’s what we’ll need in the backfield to keep our running game at an almost elite level. If Walker goes the season with no injuries, he could potentially be a 1,000 yard rusher like Bret Bielema predicted last season.
Thanks for sticking with us for so long, Kody. Here’s to a great senior season.