Arkansas running back Devwah Whaley was shaken when his teammate went down on Saturday, but knew the team had to go on.
Sophomore Devwah Whaley and the rest of the offense was going through a non-tackling run drill when Rawleigh Williams III dropped to the turf. Defensive end McTelvin Agim had very light contact with Williams and he fell to the turf.
The scene was all too familiar to the time against Auburn in 2015 when Williams was tackled on the Arkansas sidelines and didn't get up. Williams was once again carted off the field on Saturday, but this time he was moving his arms and legs. However, the hush over the Walker Pavilion when it happened showed the level of concern for Williams.
"Yeah, the situation was a little scary," Whaley said. "We weren't expecting it to happen. Kind of a freak accident. Man, it was just a scary moment. It happened so quick. When it happened, everybody got quiet. It hit everyone at the same time.
"All we can do is pray for him. He'll be fine, though. Got the word that he's doing OK."
Whaley talked about how everyone obviously reacted to the injury.
"It was tough but at the same time we have to practice and get better," Whaley said. "We have to move forward and just do it for him and do it for the team. We have to continue on to get better."
Whaley is coming off a freshman season that saw him carry 110 times for 602 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 139 yards including a long of 43 against LSU. Saturday completed 15 practices this spring. What areas does Whaley feel he has made the most improvement and strides in?
"I would say just my all around game," Whaley said. "Being a better student of the game. Just a better running back as a whole. Working on my catching, cuts, speed and also, most importantly, pass protection. Just trying to be an all-around better back since then until now."
But for Whaley, Williams and the other running backs much of their success depends on the play and improvement of the offensive line. Whaley talked about that area of the team and what he has seen from them this spring.
"Oh man, everything," Whaley said. "Just them starting to gel as a whole. And us coming together as an offense. There's always room for improvement and that's what we're gonna continue to do going into the summer and going into the fall."
Whaley came to Arkansas with some very glowing credentials. He didn't disappoint either. The Hogs beat Texas, Georgia and many other schools to land him. The former 4-star recruit rushed for 1,701 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior at Beaumont (Texas) Central. He was committed to Georgia, but when Mark Richt was fired he reopened his recruiting and chose the Hogs. Texas tried to make a hard push to land him, but he stayed strong to the Hogs.
Another talented back who came to Arkansas at the same time as Whaley was Joe T. Robinson 4-star T.J. Hammonds. He has worked mainly at wide receiver this spring, but also practiced some at running back the past week. Whaley likes what he sees from Hammonds as well.
"T,J.'s done a great job with the move he's done," Whaley said. "Him playing receiver and also might be playing some tailback as well. He's able to do both. He's gonna continue to get better and continue to learn."
Whaley was asked about his goals for 2017, but instead talked about his wishes for the team and program not him as an individual.
"Goals? Just to continue to get better not just for myself but so we can be better as a whole as a team," Whaley said. "So I can improve on my game.
"And just trying to help these young guys like Maleek (Williams) and when Chase (Hayden) comes in. Just try to help them bring them through and get better as a whole and get better as an all-around running back."