Alex Collins

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Arkansas confirms RB Kody Walker broke foot in practice

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Unless it’s of the bad variety, Kody Walker simply has no luck at all when it comes to injuries.

Case in point?  Wednesday, Arkansas confirmed in a press release that the running back sustained a broken right foot during a Tuesday practice session.  Walker underwent surgery on the foot earlier in the day today to repair the damage, and the doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

Arguably the best news is that Walker should be 100-percent healthy for the start of summer camp in a few months.

“It’s a pretty standard foot injury that we’ve dealt with in the past and we expect him to be full-go by June,” head coach Bret Bielema said in a statement, adding, “If anyone knows how to battle adversity it’s Kody Walker.”

That might be a bit of an understatement by Bielema.

In 2011, Walker played in the first three games before the combination of an ankle issue and a stress fracture in his shin knocked him out for the balance of that season. He played in the first two games of the following season before a broken leg sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  In July of last year, he was granted a sixth season of eligibility because of those issues, and it was confirmed in January that he would utilize that additional season in 2016.

In 2015, Walker ran for 394 yards, second on the team behind Alex Collins’ 1,577.  His six touchdowns were second to Collins’ 20.

Provided he gets and stays healthy, Walker is viewed as the likely replacement for Collins as the bellcow of the Razorbacks’ running game.

Arkansas RB Alex Collins declares for 2016 NFL Draft

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In a letter to fans, Arkansas running back Alex Collins has announced he will forgo his senior season with the Razorbacks and enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

To be able to share those records and awards with the team and fans would be an incredible experience for all of us.

I also see a future in the NFL as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After much prayer and discussion with the people who love me, I have made the decision to enter the NFL Draft.

Collins is the third underclassman from Arkansas to declare early for the NFL Draft, joining Hunter Henry and Denver Kirkland.

The initial reaction from Rotoworld is to not expect much from Collins in terms of being one of the top athletes on the board, but his physical and bruising running style should lead to plenty of interest by any NFL franchises in need of a big running back to carry the football. In a conference and division so often highlighted by the performances of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry at Alabama and LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Collins was the SEC’s third-leading rusher with 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, more than worthy of being included in the conversation regarding top running backs this season. Collins had to carry the load for Arkansas after a season-ending injury to Jonathan Williams took one-half of the dynamic running back duo at Arkansas out for the season.

Arkansas chugs past K-State in Liberty Bowl blowout

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With a pair of first-half rushing touchdowns, Alex Collins had already done his part to stake Arkansas to a 31-23 lead over Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl.

But then he did this, and that was basically that.

The junior’s 14-yard touchdown charge staked the Razorbacks to a 38-23 lead with 12 minutes remaining, effectively putting Kansas State away for good en route to a 45-23 victory.

Collins closed the day, and possibly his collegiate career, with 23 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns. His three scores gave him 20 on the season, an Arkansas single-season record, and his 3,703 career rushing yards are the second-most in Hogs history. Brandon Allen added 315 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception, Kody Walker rushed 11 times for 56 yards and a score, and Jared Cornelius produced 62 yards and a score on four total touchdowns. The only negative of the afternoon came when Dominique Reed left the game on a stretcher after corralling a 15-yard reception, but ESPN reported Reed could speak and had feeling in his fingers while leaving the Liberty Bowl floor on a stretcher.

The Wildcats started strong, intercepting Allen on the first possession of the game and turning the pick into a 27-yard touchdown drive and an early 7-0 lead, but K-State quickly fell in a whole when the Razorbacks’ next three possessions turned into scoring marches of 72, 24 and 64 yards.

After trailing 24-13 at the half, Kansas State produced a nifty touchdown when Kody Cook found fullback Winston Dimel wide open for a 48-yard touchdown scamper, pulling the deficit to 24-20, but Arkansas again answered with two straight touchdown drives — this time traveling 82 and 78 yards — the last of which was capped by Collins’ bowling ball impression.

Arkansas put the exclamation point on the win when nine consecutive running plays turned into an 80-yard touchdown drive.

The Razorbacks out-gained Kansas State 569-242 and held a 30-13 edge in first downs. Cook hit 12-of-24 passes for 163 yards with a score and a pick, and Charles Jones led the Kansas State rushing attack with six carries for 40 yards — 35 of which came on one run.

The win allows Arkansas to close on a high note for the second consecutive season. After a 2-4 start, the Hogs won six of their final seven games, the one loss being a 51-50 setback to Mississippi State, for an 8-5 record. The loss dropped Kansas State to 6-7 for the season.

Henry, Elliott, Cook, Fournette highlight Doak Walker semifinalists

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One former and three current Heisman front-runners headline the the 11-player-strong list of semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award, the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announced Wednesday.

Of the 11 semifinalists, 10 come from a Power Five conference or Notre Dame.  The only Group of Five player up for an award handed out annually to the nation’s top running back is Wyoming’s Brian Hill.

There are three running backs generally considered as the favorites for this year’s Heisman Trophy — Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Alabama’s Derrick Henry.  LSU’s Leonard Fournette was the stiff-armed front-runner for the first 10 weeks or so of the season.  Those four are Walker semifinalists, as is Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who’s on the periphery of the Heisman discussion as well.

Aside from the six previously mentioned, the other five semifinalists are Utah’s Devontae Booker, Arkansas’ Alex Collins, Oregon’s Royce Freeman, Baylor’s Shock Linwood and Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise.

Booker and Prosise are the only seniors in the group, while Collins, Elliott, Henry and Linwood are juniors.  The other five are sophomores.

Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon ran away with last year’s award, with all three finalists coming from Big Ten teams.  This year’s three finalists will be announced Nov. 24.

Loss to Arkansas eliminates LSU in SEC West race, leaves just Bama, Ole Miss

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Despite a loss to Alabama last weekend, LSU still had hopes of winning the SEC West.  Following its date with Arkansas, that hope has officially been extinguished.

Trailing 21-7  at halftime, the Tigers could get no closer than seven the rest of the way in falling to the Razorbacks 31-14.  For the Hogs, they are now bowl-eligible at 6-4 on the season after losing four of six to start the season.

It was also UA’s second straight win in the Battle for the Boot.  And, thanks in large part to Alex Collins, the Hogs get to keep possession of the 24-karat gold traveling trophy for another year.

Collins ran for a game-high 141 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in the win.  All told, the Razorbacks ran for 299 yards, scoring three of its four touchdowns on the ground.

Conversely, Leonard Fournette‘s Heisman campaign took yet another hit as the sophomore was held to 91 yards on 19 carries.  Fournette has been held to 122 yards the past two games after averaging 193 yards per game the first seven this season.

For LSU, the loss, combined with last week’s loss to Alabama, drops them to 4-2 in SEC play on the season and takes them out of play in the West division.

Alabama, at 6-1, needs to simply beat Auburn in two weeks to claim the division.  Ole Miss, at 4-2, could still win the West provided ‘Bama loses the Iron Bowl and they beat both LSU in Week 12 and Mississippi State in the regular-season finale a week later.

One final note: there could be a three-way tie between Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas as all three could finish 6-2.  However, Arkansas would lose in the second step of the three-way tiebreaker — the first step is head-to-head-to-head records, which would all be 1-1 — because they would be 4-2 in West play while Alabama and Ole Miss would both be 5-1.  In that three-way scenario, Ole Miss would then win the West based on the win over Alabama earlier in the year.