Allen: Collins still pondering NFL decision

Allen: Collins still pondering NFL decision


Allen: Collins still pondering NFL decision


FAYETTEVILLE — Seventeen University of Arkansas Razorbacks and then some played their last Reynolds Razorback Stadium football game in last Friday’s 28-3 SEC victory in the rain over Missouri.

The possible “and then some” beyond 17 Razorbacks seniors playing their Senior Day, includes running back Alex Collins among prominent juniors with 2016 decisions whether to return for their senior year or declare for the NFL draft.

Collins of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was anticipated turning pro in three years immediately after signing with Arkansas rather than Miami in 2013.

Three consecutive years exceeding 1,000 yards rushing, this year with a career high 1,392 yards and 17 touchdowns with a bowl game still to play, appears to have Collins NFL-bound.

However, not only strategically but emotionally, after watching the 17 seniors introduced Friday before their Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium farewells, Collins isn’t ready just yet to announce beyond putting his name in the information seeking optional phase allowing seniors-to-be to explore without a commitment their NFL draft possibilities.

He especially wasn’t ready after carrying a huge load on the seniors’ behalf, a career-high 30 carries for 130 yards and three touchdowns of 4, 7 and 25 yards.

Arkansas' Alex Collins (3) celebrates after a touchdown against Mississippi State.

Arkansas’ Alex Collins (3) celebrates after a touchdown against Mississippi State.

“That’s something to think about,” Collins replied postgame Friday to a question about his NFL future. “I haven’t made a decision about that yet. Today was just more so for the seniors, because this was going to be my last time playing with those guys here at the stadium. I was doing it more for them, because they don’t have another opportunity. I could always come back and play again and have more opportunities here in the stadium. They’ll never be able to play here again.”

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema obviously thinks Collins will move on, but of course keeps the door wide open like he has for senior running back Jonathan Williams, moving on after returning this year as a 2014 season draft eligible junior and suffering a season-ending broken foot in an August scrimmage, and 2015 senior receiver Keon Hatcher, likely returning as a hardship 2016 fifth-year senior with a season-ending broken foot after catching 13 passes in the season’s first two games.

“I’ll visit with him (Collins) tomorrow,” Bielema said after Friday’s game, “and send his paper work in on Monday. I know he was a little emotional before the game. I think he really felt the vibe of this could be his last game. If it is, it is, and we’ll wish him the best. But there’s a lot of conversation between now and then.”

Their conversation before Friday’s game concerned the meteorologists’ 40-degree rain prediction that proved dead on.

“I told him during the course of the week, ‘Hey, if the weather pans out the way it looks, we’re going to ride you my friend,” Bielema said. “It was fun to see him have that. I thought Alex ran extremely hard. I thought Alex and Kody (Walker, 14 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown) both ran the ball extremely hard, took advantage of some bounce plays and some cutbacks. We knew they were going to be able to make some plays on their own.”

Neither fumbled despite Friday’s wet ball becoming more slippery than a politician approaching Election Day.

“We just had to keep two hands on it the whole time, because it was real wet and very slippery,” Collins said. “We had special rain gloves for it, but that didn’t really make a difference. We just had to mentally prepare ourselves that when we get hit, to have two hands on the ball.”

While the backs held the ball, the Arkansas linemen held their blocks and then some powering the Razorbacks’ 208 yards rushing against a stout Missouri defense that knew Arkansas mostly would be running.”

“I credit them for every yard I’ve gotten,” Collins said. “Without them blocking the right people, I wouldn’t have had one yard.”

Collins and Walker extolled Missouri’s fine defense but both said Arkansas’ offensive line wore the Tigers down.

“Definitely,” Walker said. “Our O-line really got after them. They (Missouri) started getting slower and the holes started opening up more.”


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