Unfortunately for the Arkansas football program and its fans, their worst fears have been realized.
In a press release, the university announced that running back Knile Davis is expected to miss the entire 2011 season due to a left ankle injury suffered during a scrimmage Thursday. The specific nature of the injury was not revealed, and there was no mention in the release of whether surgery would be required.
“I am extremely disappointed for Knile,” UA head coach Bobby Petrino said in a statement. “He is a captain who was incredibly focused on the upcoming year. His leadership throughout the offseason was significant in the development of this team. Our athletic trainers and medical staff are the best in the country, and Knile’s mental toughness will be an asset to him during the recovery process. I am fully confident in the mindset of our running back group and their ability to perform.”
Davis suffered the injury on the seventh play of yesterday’s scrimmage when his leg was rolled up on in a pile at the end of a running play.
Last season, Davis led all SEC running backs in with 1,322 rushing yards, and would’ve entered the 2011 season on the fringe of the Heisman discussion for a team with thoughts of contending for the top spot in the SEC West. With Arkansas replacing Ryan Mallett under center with Tyler Wilson —probably — Davis’ experience and talent were going to be that much more important for the Razorbacks and their chances of taking a step to the next level this season.
That running game burden will now fall on juniors Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo, and makes Wilson’s progression as a starter sooner rather than later all the more important.
Davis is the second top-flight RB the Hogs have lost since the end of last season; in April, Broderick Green suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Davis and Green were the Razorbacks’ two leading rushers in 2010.