The prospect of Alex Collins returning for his senior season was too good to be true. Arkansas' star junior running back has declared for the NFL Draft.
It's hard to overstate how important Collins has been to the Arkansas program over the last three years. He became Bret Bielema's first star recruit shortly after taking the Arkansas job and has been a key part of the Razorback offense ever since. After splitting time with Jonathan Williams his first two seasons, he was tasked with taking on more of a leadership role this season after Williams' foot injury in August, and Collins shined - turning in probably the best season ever by an Arkansas running back not named McFadden.
Collins leaves Fayetteville with his name written throughout the record books. He's one of only three players - along with Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden - to rush for over 1,000 yards in his three seasons. He set Arkansas' single season record for rushing touchdowns with 20. He tied McFadden's record with 10 100-yard games this season. Collins is second behind McFadden in career 100-yard games, career rushing attempts, and career yards. His 1,577 rushing yards this year are third in Arkansas history behind McFadden's Heisman runner-up seasons. His career touchdowns rank 4th in Arkansas history. Without a doubt, Collins is an all-time great Razorback.
Bret Bielema indicated Collins received a somewhat middle round draft grade, and made a few public pitches to him to return for his senior season, but few running backs return for their senior seasons if they have a chance to be drafted, and Collins is no different in that regard.
We look forward to cheering on Collins in the NFL.
As for the Razorbacks, Arkansas has to hope Kody Walker will return and Rawleigh Williams will be 100% next season to go along with Devwah Whaley. The Hogs are also still recruiting a few running backs, so we'll see if they're able to add anyone else to the depth chart at the position.