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Arkansas Running Back Retires After Second Neck Injury

Only one running back in the SEC had more rushing yards than Rawleigh Williams III last year.
© Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC had two star running backs to watch heading into the 2017 season.

The first is LSU's Derrius Guice, who was the conference's leading rusher last season with 1,387 yards. The second, just 27 yards behind him, was Rawleigh Williams III out of Arkansas.

While Guice somehow did much of that damage in relief of Leonard Fournette, Williams's story was even more impressive. He was a good, but hardly spectacular, recruit out of Dallas's Bishop Lynch High School who broke his neck as a true freshman, only to storm back and finish 25th nationally in rushing yards as a sophomore.

Then Williams injured his neck again during an April 29 spring game and was carted off the field. The diagnosis—a stinger that was unrelated to his first neck injury—was positive, insofar as neck-related injuries can be. But it was enough for Williams to announce his retirement today in a letter published on Arkansas's website.

The clincher?

I've seen the replay. I saw a normal hit. That scared me. It shows me it doesn't take a big hit at this point. Any little thing can trigger it. I also saw the reaction of my mom and my sister. That broke my heart. I can't do this anymore. I want to be able to walk.

Williams finishes his college football career with 1,614 yards on 301 carries.