Arkansas Football: Hogs Should Keep Korliss Marshall at RB

Bryan Heater@@BHeaterRivalsCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2014

RB Korliss Marshall
RB Korliss MarshallDanny Johnston/Associated Press

The Arkansas Razorbacks have plenty to work on in the offseason. While there are a lot of positions head coach Bret Bielema and his staff have to focus on, the running back spot is not one of them.

With Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams carrying the ball, the Hogs have one of the best tandems in the entire country. However, Korliss Marshall, a converted safety, showed big-time potential in a limited role in 2013. 

Despite showing that potential, Bielema is still considering moving Marshall back to safety, per Otis Kirk of 247 Sports (subscription required). Bielema may be thinking about moving him back to the defensive backfield, but he should keep him right where he is.

Those who watched Marshall when he did get the ball last year saw a guy who could be a huge part of the Razorbacks' backfield in the future. He had just 17 carries as a freshman, but on those limited touches, he displayed the ability to be an impact player.

On 17 attempts, Marshall manged to gain 146 yards for an eyebrow-raising 8.6 yards-per-carry average. If you can get anything out of that, it's that Marshall has speed and elusiveness. When he did get the ball, he showed a quick burst and the ability to make defenders miss. 

Marshall's burst is something that really stands out about him as a ball-carrier. It seems like by the time defenders are able to get first contact, he's already five yards downfield. Backs that can pick up that kind of yardage on average are invaluable, and Marshall did that when he got the ball. 

He had a long run last year of 32 yards, and even if you took that away, Marshall still averaged 7.1 YPC on his 16 other attempts. At times, his burst looked even better than Collins' and Williams'. 

That's really saying something.

An adjective that describes his running style is electric. He has the speed to take it the distance whenever he touches the ball. Marshall also displayed his game-breaking speed as a kickoff returner, where he had a long of 87 yards. 

Though there aren't any longer clips of him in 2013 due to his limited role, you can see his speed and ability to impact games with big plays in highlights of his at Osceola:

Another big reason why Bielema should keep him in the backfield is his versatility, which can be seen in his highlight video. Marshall has good hands, and can run out of the backfield and do damage catching the ball.

He didn't catch any balls in his first year, but expect that to change if he stays at running back. He's also versatile as a ball-carrier, having the ability to get the tough yards up the middle or bounce it outside and do damage in space. 

However, as big of a factor as his ball-carrying skills are, a huge reason why Bielema should keep him put is because of the depth at running back.

Williams will be a junior in 2014, and with him having a lot of talent, there's a chance he could leave after next year. If that happens, the Hogs could rotate Marshall in behind Collins, making for a very electric duo. 

He still has a lot of fine-tuning to do to his game. This offseason will provide him with time to better learn the offense and work on his ball-carrying skills, because though he has a lot of talent, he can stand to improve upon his vision and getting yards after contact.

Marshall is a diamond in the rough. Bielema and his staff discovered that diamond, and it would be a shame to see it wasted by making the wrong decision. They always say when you're taking tests to stick with your first instinct. 

Don't second-guess yourself, Bret. You were right the first time.


Bryan Heater is the Arkansas Razorbacks featured columnist. Follow him on Twitter @BHeaterRivals.