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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas running backs coach Jeff Traylor throws a football during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss. - Photo by Ben Goff

The University of Arkansas had to fend off Ole Miss to sign running back A'Montae Spivey, and the Razorbacks were able to do so in large part because of associate head coach and running backs coach Jeff Traylor.

Spivey, 6-1, 207 pounds, 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, of Phenix City (Ala.) Central, committed to the Razorbacks on Aug. 6 over LSU, Purdue, Cincinnati and others,

Ole Miss came in late with a scholarship offer on Nov. 18, and Spivey eventually took an official visit to Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 25-27. Despite the trip, he signed with the Hogs on Wednesday.

Central running backs coach Keith Wicker credits Traylor for landing Spivey.

"Coach Traylor did an unbelievable job," Wicker said.

Wicker was so impressed that he made sure to let Arkansas Coach Chad Morris know his thoughts when Morris, Traylor and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock visited the school on Feb.1.

"I even told Coach Morris you need to give him a raise because you knew he was on [the] up-and-up," Wicker said. "You knew he was truthful."

Wicker has a reputation as a straight shooter and Spivey noticed the same with Traylor.

"A'Monate even said coach reminded him of me, he's a truth teller," Wicker said."He didn't feed him a line of this and that."

Spivey had 74 carries for 994 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. As a senior, he rushed 178 times for 1,338 yards and 19 touchdowns to lead the Red Devils to 14-0 record and the Class 7A state championship.

Traylor visited the school whenever he could do so within NCAA recruiting guidelines.

"My mom lives in Bentonville, Arkansas, and I know how far that is," Wicker said. "I promise you I saw him more than I saw any coaches that lived closer. I saw him at the state championship game and a game in Atlanta. We played in the Cam Newton classic. He was there."

Wicker also praised Morris and Craddock's efforts in recruiting Spivey.

"He went there because they showed they wanted him," Wicker said. "They didn't have to have him, but they wanted him and if he came there they would make him better."

He's followed Morris' stops at Clemson and SMU prior to his hiring at Arkansas.

"I know he came from Dabo Swinney and I see so much of him," Wicker said. "Just an easy going, I'm not higher than you, down-to-earth. Just relates well to kids or teenagers."

Wicker sees Morris getting the job done in Fayetteville.

"I know what Coach Morris did at Clemson and how they turned it around and how he did SMU," Wicker said."I believe in him."

Wicker said Arkansas is getting a talented running back with a high football IQ.

"He's always been blessed with speed, but now he's understanding how the offensive line blocks and where the crack is coming from where a kick-out block is coming from," Wicker said. "He shows so much patience."

Spivey can plant his foot and accelerate without breaking stride.

"He doesn't have to slow down to make cuts," Wicker said. "I always compare him to Shaun Alexander that played at Alabama. He was a 4.7 guy, but he made his cuts at 4.7, too."

Wicker said Spivey's combination of speed and vision separates him from others. One example came against Thompson in the state title game.

"They have eight D-I players on the team, three of them going to Alabama," Wicker said. "We called a play to the left and he sticks his foot in the ground and he out runs everybody back to the right."

Central is traditionally loaded with talent and has several talented underclassmen Arkansas and others are recruiting and have extended scholarships to. Approximately 40 Division-I schools visited Central in the last three weeks of the contact period that ended on Feb.2.

"Every SEC school and every SEC head coach has been in our office the last two weeks before the dead period," Wicker said.

Wicker believes the Hogs could benefit having signed Spivey.

"I tell A'Monate go there and do good and be a pipeline for these other kids," Wicker said."Show them you can go away."

There's a chance Wicker and others on Central's coaching staff make their way to Fayetteville during spring practice.

"They've offered an invitation for our whole staff to come out and spend the week of spring training with them and pick their brains and watch practice," Wicker said.

E-mail Richard Davenport at

Sports on 02/10/2019

Print Headline: Traylor plays big role on RB signing

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