Arkansas All-SEC running back Rawleigh Williams III announced on Monday that he will not play football again, deciding after suffering a neck injury in the Razorbacks’ final spring practice that his health was too much at risk to continue playing.
Williams wrote an essay explaining his decision for ArkansasRazorbacks.com, and make sure you’ve got some sort of handkerchief available when you read it. In it, Willimas outlines the experiences of going through his injuries, realizing a simple play with little contact like the one ran in practice could lead to serious injury, and his goals for the future, including saying simply “I want to be able to walk.”
This is clearly the safest choice for Williams and I can’t imagine coming to the same conclusion if it was me or a loved one. We wish him all the best going forward. He’ll be remembered as a fan favorite.
Williams suffered a broken neck in the 2015 Auburn game, but returned for the 2016 season and came within 27 yards of leading the league in rushing. He earned 2nd Team All-SEC status for his efforts.
What does Rawleigh Williams’ injury mean for Arkansas in 2017? The obvious answer is Devwah Whaley will be expected to carry more of the load. It’s also possible T.J. Hammonds could move back to a full-time running back role (he was a receiver much of this spring), and Arkansas is also bringing in two freshman running backs, Maleek Williams and Chase Hayden. Maleek Williams was an early enrollee this spring and reports of his play were positive. We won’t know for sure how it will play out until preseason camp in August and games start getting played.
This is the third time in recent years a star running back for Arkansas will miss a season. Arkansas lost Knile Davis to a preseason injury in 2011 and Jonathan Williams in 2015. This is a trend that we’d like to stop.