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Dominique Johnson: Brief August Move to Tight End Got His Attention

When Sam Pittman moved Dominique Johnson to tight end for a day, it got his attention and now he's emerging as key running back
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For whatever reason, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman and his staff decided to move Dominique Johnson from running back to tight end.

If it was for motivation, well, it apparently has worked for the 16th-ranked Razorbacks.

"It really put a fire under me," the sophomore running back from Crowley, Texas, said after practice Tuesday. "Running back is what I wanted to play. So them moving me to tight end made me just want to go harder at running back to show them I’m an actual running back."

His 132 net yards rushing isn't that eye-popping through three games. An average of 8.8 yards per carry does get your attention in addition to scoring a touchdown in every game.

Johnson's attempts have been increasing steadily because he's showing he can get tough yards and break big plays, like his 48-yard scoring run against Georgia Southern.

READ MORE: How Texas A&M is preparing for Hogs' offense

Those numbers may keep going up.

"If he keeps running like that, I promise you he’s going to get more," Pittman said Monday. "I don’t know what happened to him. I wish I could sit here and have the answer."

Before his steady emergence over a 3-0 start to the season, Pittman said Monday he wasn't particularly impressed with what he'd seen.

"It just goes to show you sometimes you’ve got to wait your turn," Pittman said. "This is no disrespect to him, but I never thought, ‘Hey, when we put him in the game I’m going to be overly excited that he’s in there,' but I’m excited.

"This guy is a good running back. Tough, good blocker."

He's in a four-man rotation with starter Trelon Smith along with freshmen Rocket Sanders and AJ Green. It's a system that has worked so far.

"You’ve just got to stay ready at all times," Johnson said.

READ MORE: Injuries in offensive line create question marks for A&M game

And it all started with that brief move to tight end.

"He got his chance to go back the next day, and he said, ‘Hey, I’m going to show you that you don’t want to move me. That I’m too valuable here,’" Pittman said. "And he has done that."

It's a big part of a running game that has raised expectations in September much higher than a lot of people had in August.

Now the big test comes in a place where Johnson played youth league football games. Going to AT&T Stadium to face No. 7 Texas A&M where the Dallas Cowboys play is a big deal. He grew up just down the road in Crowley, located just south of Fort Worth.

"I live maybe 20 minutes from there," said. It’s going to be exciting to have my family there and hopefully to come out with a win."

Kickoff for the game is set for 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on CBS nationally.

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