If you look out at Saturday's Arkansas football scrimmage and see someone that reminds you of Kiero Small, Chris Jones will take that as a very big compliment.
That's because Jones (5-11, 245) – a walk on from Dequeen who redshirted last year as a true freshman – is doing his best to fill the rather large footsteps of Small, the bone-rattling, helmet crushing force who was the Razorbacks' stellar starting fullback in 2011 and 2013.
"That's my guy there," Jones said. "I look up to him and want to have the same type of impact that he did. He's what inspired me to walk on here. I watched him and saw Arkansas was playing power football and that's my game. I know I have a long way to go, but that's what I am pushing for right now."
Jones, who had 603 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns as a senior at DeQueen, had scholarship offers elsewhere, but wanted to give it a shot at Arkansas and see if he could make it in Fayetteville.
The fact that Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema mentioned his name several times last season during post-practice press conferences certainly spurred him on.
"It motivated me to get better," Jones said. "I am taking it every day, but every day is not guaranteed. I have just got to work harder. I just have to work and get in the playbook."
Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas wants Jones to calm down and not try to be Small too soon.
"Chris has got to calm down right now," Thomas said. "I think he is trying to do too much. Maybe keep it a couple of plays where he can lock in on it and roll from there. I think he is trying to do a little too much and trying to be Kiero too soon. We are going to do what we can to help him out because he has a lot of promise there."
Jones watched Small intently last season.
"I learned leverage and getting lower," Jones said. "I played too high sometimes so I have to get lower. His lower body is so strong. I have got to improve on that as well."
Arkansas has a ton of backs looking for playing time next season with tailbacks such as Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins, Korliss Marshall and fullbacks such as Jones, Patrick Arinze, Kody Walker and Denzel Evans.
"All of our running backs are great running backs and they are taking steps every day," Jones said. "All the guys that I am competed with are great guys and we have to work at it every day. Everything is earned here."
Marshall, last year's sensation from Osceola, loves what he is seeing from Jones.
"Chris Jones is a really competitive guy," Marshall said. "That man goes hard every play. Since he is coming from Arkansas, I can understand why he works so hard. We come from small towns and we really didn't have anything growing up so I can really see why he works so hard."
Jones would love to earn a scholarship, but it isn't something he is dwelling on.
"I haven't heard anything yet," Jones said. "That would be great, but I am not worrying about it. I am just working. I have to earn it."
Jones Wants To Be The New Small
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