How recruiting can help Arkansas improve backfield

A look at Arkansas' biggest position of need for 2016 and how the Razorbacks are addressing it in recruiting:

Biggest need: The Hogs have stuck to a certain identity since Bret Bielema and his staff arrived prior to the 2013 season and offensively, that centers around running the football. That's something Arkansas does consistently and effectively and 2015 was no different.

That said, the Razorbacks' best running backs are departing. Alex Collins, who was the SEC's third-leading rusher behind Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette this season, is entering the NFL draft. Jonathan Williams, a senior who was Arkansas' 2014 rushing leader but lost his final season to injury, won't be back either. That leaves the Razorbacks a little bit thin at the position.

Returning for Arkansas is sophomore-to-be Rawleigh Williams III, who was promising in the time he saw as a true freshman (56 carries, 254 yards, 4.5 yards per rush) before he had his season cut short by a neck injury suffered in October versus Auburn (he had successful surgery and is expected to make a full recovery). Williams is talented but unproven in the SEC and battling back from neck surgery isn't easy. Kody Walker, a fullback/running back who will be a sixth-year senior, hasn't carried the ball more in a season than the 90 times he did in 2015. Carries have been scarce for Denzell Evans, who will be a junior, and redshirt sophomore-to-be Juan Day has four career carries and has had both ACLs repaired in a less-than-two-year span.

What Arkansas truly has without Collins and Williams is largely unknown commodities, so additional help at the position in recruiting would be welcomed.

Recruiting scoop: With the loss of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, a deep group of running backs has suddenly become very thin. Rawleigh Williams III will be back but the Razorbacks were hoping to add an impact running back through recruiting. Arkansas benefited greatly from the departure of Mark Richt at Georgia. The third-ranked running back in the country, Devwah Whaley, committed to Georgia on Thanksgiving night, but backed off that pledge when Richt was let go. Arkansas then turned the pressure up on the 6-foot, 195-pound back and eventually landed Whaley when he announced his commitment at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2.

With Whaley’s size and physical running style, the talented prospect should have a chance to compete for early playing time. The Razorbacks also added a commitment from three-star fullback Hayden Johnson, who they are hoping will lead the way for Whaley in the future.