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Andy Hodges

If Boyd’s ‘opt out’ is not quitting, further explanation probably required

If Rakeem Boyd isn’t a quitter, he should have come up with a better excuse than needing a couple of extra weeks to prepare for the NFL Draft.

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Schools aren’t releasing information about the “opt out” choice players are making this year and Rakeem Boyd did that this week instead of just saying he quit.

Gloss it over however you want, but Boyd quit in the tweet he sent out. It’s either that or a mutual decision with Sam Pittman that moving along was in the best interest of the team.

Boyd said he was declaring for the NFL Draft he is on the fringe of being picked in right now. Most of the teams in the league figure they can pick up a running back just about any time unless you’re Jerry Jones, who’s been over-paying at the position for 25 years or so.

Boyd, elected a team captain in the preseason, just flat quit on his team that elected him to that position of respect.

I’m not the only one with that view, by the way.

“Opting out this late is quitting,” Bill King of Nashville Sports Radio told Phil Elson, Matt Jenkins and Matt Travis (Halftime) on ESPN Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon. “You’re quitting your teammates.”

King is completely correct. Covid has been around for awhile now so if there’s a concern over that it’s a little late and the reason I don’t think it had any role is Boyd didn’t mention it. Players mentioned it when they quit playing back in the preseason.

“You’ve had forever to figure this out,” King said. “What’s the point now?”

It leaves the Razorbacks a little thin at the running back position with Trelon Smith and T.J. Hammonds the only ones with a lot of experience there.

Boyd flunked out at Texas A&M, had a good second half of a season in junior college and one solid season with the Hogs wrapped around two seasons plagued by injury.

Different NFL teams will handle him quitting on his team in their own way.

The “opt out” decision made by the NCAA earlier this year was primarily done so players concerned with risks associated with covid-19 could avoid playing and not be penalized with the loss of a year.

Coaches and players have used it across the country to run off players they don’t want on the team without saying so publicly and for players to bail out on a team they really don’t want to be on anymore for whatever reason.

Sources in Starkville, Mississippi, have said Mike Leach ran off a bunch of good players, including one of the top running backs in the league in Kylin Hill.

The Hogs have had some players leave. If you believe Jerry Jacobs left to prepare for the NFL Draft, then you’ll probably fall for anything. Boyd may or may not fall into that same category, but it is interesting as Smith has emerged as a pretty good running back, Boyd has all but disappeared.

It’s not like the Hogs’ running game has been particularly impressive (this team is going to win and lose based on the passing game), but Boyd has shown he can last a season and put up over 1,000 yards.

As one of the team captains, Boyd was in a leadership role.

Leaders don’t quit with two games left in the regular season. It’s rare they are asked to leave.

It’s become fashionable for players to skip bowl games because they don’t want to risk injury for their professional future most probably aren’t going to have anyway.

The fact is they are at greater risk of injury in Fayetteville crossing Razorback Road to the players’ parking lot than playing in a bowl game.

Most of that’s due to agents, who have a vested interest in the players. You can keep your head in the sand and ignore that little fact of life, but a lot of these players have either a certified agent or a family member or friend that thinks they are going to be an agent.

“An agent’s probably been on (Boyd) a long time,” King said.

It’s impossible to regulate conversations so a signature with an agent is about the only thing that can cause a potential problem for a player, but that’s Boyd’s issue to deal with.

He is a grown man and made a grown-up decision. That also means he gets to deal with what other grown-ups think about it.

And it’s pretty simple.

Taking an extra couple of weeks to prepare for the NFL Draft is flat out quitting on your teammates at crunch time. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

If it’s something else, Boyd should have said it.

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