Closer Look at Roles for Five Razorback Players on Saturday

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FAYETTEVILLE — The clocking is ticking down on the season opener for the 2020 University of Arkansas Football opener on Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Many predicted this season would never happen, but now Sam Pittman and his team are about 24 hours away from opening against Georgia. The game will kickoff at 3 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network.

Here’s a closer look at the roles of five different Razorbacks heading into this game.

Rakeem Boyd, Senior, Running Back, 6-0, 215

Pittman on if Boyd has improved his blocking and receiving as well as can he get 30 touches per game?

“I feel real, real confident in Rakeem Boyd. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. Obviously being the captain, this team has high respect for him, as well as his coaching staff. He has done a really good job with catching the ball out of the backfield and probably even a better job at protecting when linebackers come up. We have worked that with him and all the backs quite a little bit. I think he’s ready to go. He’s a big back. Obviously you wouldn’t want to run him 30 times every game, but you want to run him to win the game, so whatever that number is, I think he can hold up and he’ll have success.”

Vito Calvaruso, Freshman, Kicker, 6-2, 182

While AJ Reed will handle Arkansas’ placements, Vito Calvaruso, who is a true freshman walk-on from Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias will handle the kickoff duties. A source on the team says Calvaruso has been kicking it deep into or out of the end zone. Pittman on Calvaruso.

“Yeah, he’s the one kickoff man right now.”

T.J. Hammonds, Senior, Wide Receiver, 5-10, 192

The speedster has bounced around from running back to wide receiver while with the Hogs. Pittman likes what he brings to the wide receiver spot.

“I believe that he will end his career on a very positive note here. He’s helping us out in the slot. We plan on using him quite a bit. He’s very good in special teams, and I’m not talking about just as a returner. I know he starts on two to three special teams right now. But he adds value because he has speed. I’ve been really pleased with his effort on the field, and again I think he brings a lot of value to special teams as well.”

Feleipe Franks, Senior, Quarterback, 6-6, 228

Pittman talks about Franks’ leadership ability.

“To be honest with you, I feel like him becoming a captain in his mind – I don’t know, you’d have to ask him – has allowed him to become more vocal, more comfortable, more comfortable with talking. I think it’s made him a swagger player, if that makes sense. I think it all has confidence. I think it’s built his confidence up. You would think he would come from Florida and the success he’s had and he’d walk in here with a huge swagger about him, but that’s not the case. He’s a very humble person, very quiet young man, but I think this has helped his leadership, and it certainly has shown this week.”

Isaiah Nichols, Redshirt Sophomore, Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 281

Battling senior Xavier Kelly for a starting spot opposite Jonathan Marshall at defensive tackle. Pittman on Nichols.

“Well, I think he’s one you can count on, you know. He’s very consistent. We’ve been playing him inside at both positions, the nose and the three. And we go into multiple fronts he’s playing other positions as well. He’s done a really nice job and again, I think his biggest – if I thought about him – it would be consistency. He’s a very consistent player. One you know you can count on. I’ve been really proud to see his development.”

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