With the loss of freshman tailback Rawleigh Williams last week to a season-ending neck injury, it once again put the spotlight on Arkansas’ need to land some tailbacks for the future.
One of those will be on campus this weekend in Manvel, Texas, star D’Vaughn Pennamon (5-11, 212, 4.45), who will arrive with his mom Elaine Winn late Friday morning to begin his official visit.
Pennamon, a current Ole Miss commit, will be joined in Fayetteville this weekend by Manvel linebacker Jordan Carmouche (6-2, 230), a top defensive recruiting target left on the board for Arkansas.
“Arkansas has made it clear that there will be a lot of carries there for someone that comes in there next season,” Pennamon said. “That’s one thing that has me very interested in Arkansas.
“Also they have just a huge offensive line and keep recruiting those guys. Anybody would want to run behind those guys and they are committed to running the football.”
Pennamon, whose got an offer from Alabama earlier this week and is over 25 of them, is averaging 13.3 yards per rush so far this season for a team that is 8-1 and has been destroying its foes lately.
He has rushed 52 times for 689 yards and has 13 catches for 160 yards while finding the end zone on 10 occasions.
“Sometimes I might get three touches, sometimes I might get 15 because we have so much talent,” Pennamon said. “It doesn’t really matter to me how many I get, I just want to make it count when I do.”
Pennamon and Carmouche have been two of the key cogs for Manvel, whose last five wins have been over South Houston (75-14), Dawson (49-31), Alvin (73-7), Sam Rayburn (62-0) and Thursday night’s 65-10 win over Pasadena Memorial.
“We have really just put it all together these last few weeks on both sides of the ball,” Pennamon said. “We are putting in the work and playing together.”
Pennamon is looking forward to catching up with former Manvel standout and current Razorback defensive lineman Taiwan Johnson and his good friend Willie Sykes, a freshman safety for the Arkansas.
“They both tell me it is just a great place, a great program and that the coaches and fans just treat you great and give you so much support,” Pennamon said.
He also has a great relationship with Arkansas secondary coach Clay Jennings, his lead recruiter.
“Our relationship goes beyond football,” Pennamon said. “I know he really cares about me and wants the best for me whether I go to Arkansas or Ole Miss.
“But, of course, he wants me up there and I know if that is where I end up, he’ll be there for me on and off field.”
Asked what it would take for him to flip his pledge, Pennamon – who is set to take his official visit to Ole Miss on Jan. 30th and will also take one to Alabama – hedged a bit.
“I’m not really sure,” Pennamon said. “I just know I want to come up there and take a good look at Arkansas and what they are doing.
“I am just very interested in checking it all out and seeing what all they have to offer.”
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema talked recently about what the Razorback staff is looking for at running back in the 2016 class – which currently has 14 pledges.
He might have tried to sign three backs if current redshirt junior Kody Walker had not been granted a sixth year of eligibility last spring while Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins are both likely to head to the NFL.
“I have never really signed more than one running back in each class, but this year with the projection of J-Will and Alex both being two of the top four backs taken in the draft, we had decided to go to two running backs in this year’s recruiting class,” Bielema said.
“I don’t think that is going to waiver on this end at all. We will for sure take two. I don’t think I would take three just because of the depth we have got here already, especially with Kody coming back for his sixth (year).”
Pennamon is one of at least six tailbacks that Arkansas seems to have on its board.
The others with offers include Springhill, La., North Webster standout Devin White (6-1, 260), Beaumont, Texas, Central’s Devwah Whaley (6-0, 205), Kyle Porter (5-11, 190, 4.4) of Katy, Texas and Texas A&M commit Rakeem Boyd (5-11, 200) of Houston, Texas, Stratford.
The Razorbacks are also known to be interested in Marrero, La., Archbishop Shaw senior Trey Ragas (5-11, 200), who the Razorback staff visited on its open date.