Alex Collins

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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.

Whew Pig Sooie! Arkansas tops Auburn in fourth overtime, 54-46

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It looked as though Arkansas (3-4, 2-2 SEC) had a win over Auburn (4-3, 1-3 SEC) all but locked up, but a late Tigers field goal led to the teams having to settle the score in overtime. Four overtimes, in fact. After matching touchdown for touchdown through the first three overtime sessions, Arkansas took a 54-46 lead on a Brandon Allen touchdown pass to Drew Morgan on the first play of the fourth overtime. After a successful two-point conversion, Auburn’s offense finally ran out of luck and came up empty to go home with a loss.

Auburn’s final overtime possession saw the Tigers try for the end zone on two straight plays on second and third down despite needing nine yards for a first down. A fourth down pass fell incomplete over the middle.

Arkansas took a 14-0 lead in the first half, but Auburn put together a late 95-yard touchdown drive capped by a short run by Peyton Barber to get on the scoreboard. Auburn then tied the game up on the opening possession of the second half when Jason Smith ran for a nine-yard score at the end of a 75-yard drive. Momentum was officially in the hands of Auburn, but there was still a lot of football to be played.

Arkansas regained the lead later in the third quarter, but not without some concern for a teammate. Rawleigh Williams was carted off the field and taken to a nearby hospital for medical attention after taking a big hit to his upper body. Doctors appeared to be focusing on the neck of Williams, but he was conscious and had mobility in his appendages on the sideline as he was taken out of the stadium. After a pause in gameplay, Arkansas handed the ball to Alex Collins, who finished off the drive with a go-ahead touchdown, his first score of the game to give the Razorbacks a 21-14 lead.

In the fourth quarter Auburn once again put together a masterful scoring drive, this one starting from their seven-yard line. A mix of runs by Barber and passes from Sean White moved the Tigers to the Arkansas seven-yard line, but the Razorbacks stood firm at the one-yard line on a third down run by Barber. Still with plenty of time to play, Gus Malzahn took a calculated risk knowing Arkansas can run the clock as well as any team can. Going for a touchdown on the one-yard line was a must, and it paid off. Jeremy Johnson got the call and he pushed across the goal line for a game-tying score.

With the win, Arkansas manages to keep some slim postseason hopes alive. A loss would have meant Arkansas would have to win four of the final five games of the year. Still on the schedule for Arkansas are games with Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri. Picking up three wins in that stretch would be difficult (Arkansas also hosts University of Tennessee-Martin, which should be an assumed win). Arkansas still faces an uphill climb, but it is a bit more manageable now than it would have been with a loss.

Auburn continues to slide and is starting to lose its margin for error to get to the postseason. Auburn must still win two games but has games against Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Idaho and Alabama remaining. That could be a brutal stretch to end the season, but picking up two wins along the way is still very much attainable for the Tigers.

Auburn scores late TD to close gap on Razorbacks

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Arkansas opened with a touchdown on that drive and added another touchdown to take a 14-0 lead, but Auburn has overcome a flurry of dropped passes to somehow trail 14-7 at the halftime break.

Dominique Reed capped the first Razorback scoring drive with an 11-yard run, but Brandon Allen got in a rhythm on the opening drive by completing three pass attempts and handing off to Alex Collins a couple of times to serve up a balanced attack. It kept Auburn back peddling the entire drive but the Tigers hung around to keep the game within reach before allowing it to get out of hand. Arkansas scored a touchdown a couple of possessions later, this time with Allen completing a touchdown pass to Jeremy Sprinkle from 23 yards out.

Auburn did finally manage to get on the scoreboard late in the first half in unlikely fashion. The Tigers orchestrated a 16-play drive that started on their five-yard line. On third down and goal from the one-yard line, Peyton Barber plowed up the middle for a touchdown to bring Auburn within one score. At the half, Auburn has 112 yards of total offense, and 95 came on that late drive alone.

Could that late touchdown be a turning point in the game?

If rehab goes well, Hogs will lose Jonathan Williams to NFL

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At the rate things are going, Jonathan Williams may have played his final down as a member of the Arkansas football program.

Initially diagnosed with a foot injury that was expected to sideline him for an extended period of time, the Arkansas running back was subsequently ruled out for the entire season.  Williams, who sustained the injury during a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, had two screws surgically inserted into his left foot to help promote growth and healing in a torn ligament.

If his rehab goes as expected, Williams said, he won’t be returning to the Razorbacks for the 2016 season.  Instead, he’ll make his way to the NFL as an early entrant in the draft.

Last season, Williams led the Hogs in rushing with 1,190 yards. His 12 rushing touchdowns were tied for the team lead with Alex Collins, who was second on the team with 1,100 yards.  The backs were the only FBS teammates to rush for more than a thousand yards last season.

Williams is Arkansas’ No. 10 all-time leading rusher with 2,321 career rushing yards. His 5.72 career yards per rush average ranks sixth all-time at Arkansas and his rushing total in 2014 was the eighth-best single-season mark in Razorback history.

Ezekiel Elliott, Trevone Boykin top picks in Bovada Heisman odds

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When Bovada.lv released its odds in May on who will win the 2015 Heisman Trophy — and even the previous release in January — Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott was the favorite.  In the most recent release, in early July, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin had surpassed the OSU running back as the wagering favorite.

A month later, the two players are intertwined.

In the latest set of odds released by the popular sportsbook, Boykin and Elliott ar e the co-favorites at 5/1 to claim the 2015 Heisman Trophy.  Both of those odds are shorter, with the former having been at 6/1 and the latter 7/1.

Two of Elliott’s teammates, quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, are listed at 9/1 and 12/1, respectively, as they wage a battle for the starting job.  Barrett and Jones had been expected to be involved in a three-man quarterback competition with Braxton Miller, who instead, because his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder is still not 100 percent, opted to move to wide receiver/H-back.  Even with that move, the senior is part of the odds at 33/1.

Perhaps because of a miss-an-extended-period-of-time injury that turned into a season-ending one for Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams, teammate and fellow back Alex Collins has gone from off the board to 33/1, ahead of the likes of Pittsburgh running back James Connor (50/1), Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (66/1) and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright (100/1).

The only player taken off the board this time around?  Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, whose future with the Seminoles remains uncertain.

Below are the complete set of odds, again provided by Bovada.lv.

Bovada August Heisman Odds