Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Alex Collins may not be much of a sleeper anymore. The season-ending injury teammate and fellow 1,100-yard rusher Jonathan Williams sustained earlier this month turns Arkansas’ former sidekick into the decided No. 1.
Collins may have been the Razorbacks’ second-leading rusher behind Williams, but he wasn’t exactly playing second fiddle. Collins finished the year over 1,100 yards and less than a football field’s length behind Williams for the team lead.
Collins touted dropping some weight when addressing reporters at the beginning of fall camp. His loss in weight should yield gains in yards, as the junior will hit holes faster and with more explosion.
Bret Bielema-coached teams invariably favor a multifaceted run game. This should remain the case despite Williams’ absence. Collins will share carries with fullback Kody Walker, who handled the majority of reps Williams missed in the spring.
Sharing the workload won’t hinder Collins from making a run at the Heisman, however. On the contrary: Arkansas’ reliance on multi-back looks means having a reliable second option will open things up more for Collins.
Look no further than Montee Ball’s 2011 Heisman candidacy for evidence. Ball shared carries with James White and still set the nation’s rushing pace.
It didn’t hurt that Ball shared a backfield with Russell Wilson. No one will mistake Brandon Allen for the current Seahawk star, but Allen’s continued progression into a capable game manager will be crucial to the Razorbacks establishing their offensive identity.
The dark-horse SEC contender Arkansas making noise in the stacked West division should propel Collins into the national spotlight.