FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Brandon Allen was in junior high when Arkansas' greatest collection of backfield talent ran its way through the Southeastern Conference.
The Razorbacks quarterback and Fayetteville native remembers well the accolades earned in college by future NFL running backs Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis.
And Allen isn't shying away from the potential he sees in Arkansas' current backfield of Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins and Korliss Marshall to rival their predecessors' accomplishments.
"They very well could," Allen said.
For a team coming off a 3-9 season in its first year under coach Bret Bielema, the hope brought by Williams, Collins and Marshall — who combined to rush for 2,072 yards last season — is very real for the Razorbacks.
The three have also given Arkansas a clear identity leading into its second season under Bielema, a welcomed sense after the school's first winless conference season since joining the SEC in 1992.
Bielema had standout running backs in his seven seasons at Wisconsin, highlighted by 2012 Doak Walker award winner Montee Ball. He also preferred a stable of ball carriers during his time with the Badgers, and this season's returning group has provided him with a much higher comfort level than last year.
"I feel a lot better," Bielema said. "For those of you that didn't know, I like good running backs."
The Razorbacks were third in the SEC last season with an average of 208.7 yards rushing per game, and they were led by Collins' 1,026 yards. Collins also led Arkansas in attempts as a freshman, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, but he had plenty of help from Williams — who rushed for 900 yards while averaging 6 yards per carry.
As good as the duo was last season, even more is expected this year out of Collins as a sophomore and Williams as a junior. They are fine with that.
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