Even though Kaleb Blanchard broke records in his first year of varsity football, the Denham Springs, La., running back has had to deal with criticism heading into his senior season.
After rushing for a school-record 1,799 yards and 21 touchdowns his sophomore year of high school, Blanchard suffered a shoulder injury his junior season, limiting him to 40 carries for 550 yards.
Since the injury, some have questioned Blanchard's durability, but the 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back said he is ready to silence the critics.
"I just have to get back on my feet and push myself," Blanchard said. "It motivates me because so many people are doubting me and saying I'm not good enough or I can't take contact, I'm too soft or not big enough.
"I have all the newspapers, all the little letters and whatnot that question me posted on my locker in the locker room and I guess we'll see if I'm durable or not."
Blanchard, who committed to Arkansas the day after John L. Smith was hired as the Arkansas head coach, said he built a strong relationship with running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton which aided his interest in Arkansas.
"The main reason I committed to Arkansas was that I had been to other places before, but when I went to Arkansas, I just had that connection with Coach Tim Horton and I just had that ‘this is the place' feeling," Blanchard said.
"In the beginning of March for Junior Day, I was already really interested in Arkansas and I drove all the way up there – it was 10 hours – and I had a film session with Coach Horton. We watched the Texas A&M game when Arkansas played them in Dallas two years ago and he was showing me some footage of Knile Davis and we also talked about Darren McFadden a little bit and how I could be like them in some ways.
"We were just talking like we were father and son and I felt a great connection. I started talking to him about a run where if Knile would have just kept running straight, he would have scored, but he tried to run the defender over instead. It just felt like I was already part of the team."
Blanchard said location is another factor that contributed to his decision to commit to Arkansas. While he lives in Louisiana, he said his grandmother lives in Arkansas and is a big fan of the Razorbacks, so he knows he will have family that can watch him play at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The running back that chose Arkansas over offers from fellow SEC schools Ole Miss and Mississippi State and had gained interest from LSU said he has been working on recruiting several players to join him in the Cardinal and White, including a high school teammate.
"I'm trying to recruit one of my own teammates, Tevin Lawson, who is committed to LSU right now," Blanchard said. "On the other hand, he's trying to get me go to LSU, but I tell I'm good. I'm ready to go to Arkansas."
Blanchard motivated by criticism
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