FAYETTEVILLE — The 2023 NFL Combine begins Feb. 28 and runs through March 6 with Arkansas sending five.
Linebacker Drew Sanders will head to Indianapolis along with four of his teammates. A pair of wide receivers, Jadon Haselwood and Matt Landers, will be joined by center Ricky Stromberg and offensive tackle Dalton Wagner.
Sanders spent one season at Arkansas after transferring in from Alabama. But it was an outstanding season for Sanders. He finished with 103 tackles, 40 solo, 13.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks, one interception, five pass breakups, six quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery and three forced ones.
Sanders is easily Arkansas’ top draft prospect according to the majority of draft experts. At ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr, Todd McShay and Matt Miller all rate Sanders the No. 1 inside linebacker while Jordan Reid places Sanders second behind Clemson’s Trenton Simpson.
Haselwood spent one season with the Hogs after previously playing at Oklahoma. Haselwood caught 59 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns. He recently played in the Shine Bowl and the Athletic’s Nate Tice was impressed.
“Haselwood (6-2, 213) was a standout at every practice and in every drill. He showed off the smooth athleticism that once made him a five-star recruit, but he also displayed a more polished route tree than expected coming into the week. A transfer from Oklahoma after the 2021 season, Haselwood didn’t record any receptions in the actual Shrine Bowl itself, but his hands and ball skills were on display in practices. He consistently made plays in one-on-ones and in team periods. Haselwood did more for his stock than probably any other receiver during the week.”
Landers was a standout in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Landers transferred in for one season from Toledo. In his one season with the Hogs, Landers caught 47 passes for 901 yards and eight touchdowns. In the 55-53 three-overtime win over Kansas, Landers caught three passes for 121 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 15 yards on a single carry.
Stromberg and Wagner were both solid offensive line players since they arrived on the campus. Stromberg started 11 games as a true freshman. He played in all 12 games as a true freshman. In the second game of the season, Stromberg started at left guard and after two games there started the final nine at right guard. But it was center where Stromberg made his name. He started 33 games over the next three seasons at center.
Wagner was at Arkansas for six seasons. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2017. In 2018 as a redshirt freshman, Wagner played in 11 of the 12 games with one start (Tulsa). Wagner started all 12 games in 2019 and then became one of the key members for Chad Morris and then Sam Pittman.
Word started spreading on Thursday that Texas and Oklahoma are headed to the SEC a year ahead of schedule.
The two will now become SEC members after the 2023-24 season. They were originally slated to join following the 2024-25 season. The move didn’t come cheap with the two schools agreeing in principle to pay the Big 12 $100 million for the early exit.
The two schools look to offset some of that hefty price with future revenues from the SEC. Each SEC member just received an average of 49.9 million from the league for the past fiscal year that ended in August.
On July 1, the Big 12 will add Houston, Cincinnati, Central Florida and BYU thus operating as a 14-team league.
The SEC hasn’t announced how the schedules will now be distributed for the 2024 football season and other sports. I would imagine, judging by past SEC scheduling assignments, Arkansas is pretty nervous what they will get assigned. The SEC has never done them any favors when it comes to scheduling. In the 2020 COVID year, the SEC added two games to each school’s schedule and Arkansas drew Georgia and Florida. Arkansas went to Florida and will do so again this season. Not sure what happened with home and away ideas when it comes to scheuling.
Benton Class of 2024 four-star running back Braylen Russell announced on Thursday night he has a Top 10. Russell was once committed to Arkansas, but reopened his recruiting.
The schools making the cut for the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Russell are Arkansas, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Purdue, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Click here for Russell’s highlights.