SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.
Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.
52. Jonathan Williams, Jr., RB, Arkansas
The first piece of the Razorbacks’ two-headed monster in the Top 100, Williams made a tremendous impact early in the season as a sophomore with 393 yards on the ground during Arkansas’ 3-0 start, joining teammate Alex Collins with three consecutive 100-yard outing. Williams and Collins became the second pair of backfield mates in school history to hit the 900-yard rushing mark despite the team’s 0-8 SEC slide.
Each running back presents top-notch speed as a home run threat, but Williams is more of a grinder, often having his number called in short yardage situations as the bigger ballcarrier and prototypical Bret Bielema power back. Williams flexed his muscles during his first full season as a starter and took advantage of the additional reps with six total touchdowns and 6.0 yards per carry average — 12th on the Razorbacks’ single-season list. His production dwindled after the red-hot start however, partly due to Collins’ emergence as Bielema’s featured option.
These two are capable of equaling Darren McFadden and Felix Jones’ production, but it doesn’t appear the Razorbacks have enough comparable talent on both sides of the football to run away from the competition like they did during the Houston Nutt era. Those rushing attacks went for the jugular, but this one’s still developing. Considering Williams and Collins’ success behind an inexperienced offensive line starting four true freshmen last season, production may improve with a stronger unit up front despite the loss of all-league center Travis Swanson.
2013 statistics: 150 carries, 900 yards, 4 TD; 7 catches, 72 yards, 2 TD
2014 projection: 161 carries, 958 yards, 7 TD; 14 catches, 201 yards, 3 TD
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