(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another in a position-by-position series on UCA football, from the players’ perspectives, as the Bears head into the summer. Interviews were in April after spring football practice).

 

 

The early-laid plans didn’t turn out to be the best-laid plans for the University of Central Arkansas backfield this spring.

Jackie Hinton, who rushed for 349 yards last season, was initially moved to wideout but was moved back to running back after the first scrimmage when coaches decided he was too much of a playmaker at running back.

He’s the most dynamic back in a backfield of weapons.

"I’m very comfortable," he said. "Coaches realized I was a better back than receiver. I feel like I had a very good spring. I feel like I can help the team in backfield.

"I’m a totally different back. I have better vision. I know I can make opponents miss and score the football. But what I’m most proud of is that I’m a better blocker, and I’m smarter."

Hinton is coming off knee surgery for an injury that initially surfaced last summer and plagued him through part of last year.

"I’m working on my speed," he said. "I’m fast now, but I want to be a little faster. You never can be perfect. I want to be better at every phase."

He’s a more confident player this year after being a defensive back when he first showed up on campus.

"Last year was my first time playing on the offensive side of ball as running back," he said. "By me knowing what I know now, it can help me perform better this year. Playing receiver helped me with my routes. It gave me the feel of where the defender is. With that, it gives {quarterback) Nathan (Dick) a window to throw the ball."

Hinton, a finesse back, is part of a deep backfield combination that includes Terence Bobo (more of a slashing back who rushed or 436 yards and nine touchdowns last season), Anthony Blackmon (more of an inside runner who is also coming off knee surgery) and Marcel Threat, who showed promise as a breakaway threat as a freshman.

"All of us can bring something different to table. That’s the best thing," Hinton said.

"We all do different things and that could be hard for our opponents to get a grasp on our running style. We can keep each other fresh," Blackmon said.

He added, "Basically, for us, it’s  being patient. When the time comes, you’ve got to take advantage of chance to shine. All of our backs do things a little differently."

The main thing during the spring for Blackmon was getting his confidence back after knee surgery.

"I may have taken a step back last year when I got injured," he said. "This spring was not about getting better. It was getting back on field and getting a feel for it. At beginning of spring, I was real hesitant and nervous about cutting and what not. As spring progressed, I gained confidence about getting that back."

After going through a spring in which the defense dominated in most instances, Blackmon remains upbeat about the offense.

"If we can go out and play well with them (the defenders) knowing our plays, we can play well against anybody," he said. "Our linebackers are so smart and read the plays. The d-linemen are so powerful. They threw me around a few times. It frustrated a lot of guys on the offensive side. They knew the plays and we couldn’t get anything going. You’re not gonna hit them with something they haven’t seen."

"Any offense would have trouble with our defense this year," Hinton said. "They’re a lot stronger and they are a lot smarter. It’s kind of hard when your defense is as fast as you are."

NEXT: WIDE RECEIVERS