LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The football world is focused on the bright lights of Sin City as college players hope to have their prayers answered and hear their names called in the NFL Draft.

Among those watching to see if commissioner Roger Goodell will welcome them into the professional leagues will be three Arkansas natives looking to step up to the next level.

PIERRE STRONG

South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong during an NCAA football game against MinnesotaSouth Dakota State Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton- King)

Pierre Strong is a running back from South Dakota State who played at McClellan High School in Little Rock. He was the 5A Offensive Player of the Year his senior season and rushed 4,268 yards and scored 57 touchdowns over his final two seasons at McClellan.

In 2018 Strong came on strong for the Jackrabbits. He had 1,116 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Then in 2019 Strong became the seventh running back in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, gaining a team-best 1,018 yards in 11 games.

In 2021 Strong saved his best for last. He rushed for 1,489 yards and 16 touchdowns and was on the AFCA FCS Coaches’ All America First team. He was also a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.

GREGORY JUNIOR 

National Team cornerback Gregory Junior of Ouachita Baptist (6) in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Gregory Junior is a cornerback for Ouachita Baptist, and if drafted, he would be the first player from OBU to be selected in the NFL draft. Junior started 33 games for the Tigers and was the first OBU Tiger to be invited to the Senior Bowl. Junior was lightly recruited out of Crossett high school.  

Junior finished his senior season with 46 tackles, seven pass breakups and was responsible for a safety. He was All-GAC first team and made the D2football.com Elite 100 All-America team. 

JOSH JOHNSON

Tulsa wide receiver Josh Johnson (13) carries during an NCAA college football game against Tulane n Tulsa, Okla., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Josh is a wide receiver from Tulsa who played high school football for Central Arkansas Christian. He was a four-year letterman at CAC and spent two seasons at Iowa State before transferring to Tulsa.

Josh had his best season at Tulsa in 2021. He caught 83 passes for 1,114 yards and six touchdowns. One of his best games came against Ohio State. where he had eight catches for 149 yards and one touchdown.