One of just three players in Southeastern Conference (SEC) history to run for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, Arkansas running back Alex Collins was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 171st overall pick Saturday afternoon.
Collins’ selection comes just 15 spots after teammate and fellow running back Jonathan Williams was picked by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round. Collins and Williams are the first running back duo to be selected in the first five rounds of the same NFL Draft since 2008 when Arkansas great Darren McFadden was taken fourth overall by the Oakland Raiders and Felix Jones was selected 22nd overall by the Dallas Cowboys.
In addition, Collins and Williams are one of only five Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) running back tandems taken in the same NFL Draft since McFadden and Jones in 2008 and the first since 2014. The two also were the only FBS teammates to each rush for 1,000-plus yards during the 2014 season.
Collins entered the 2015 season 14th in school history with 2,126 career yards rushing after joining McFadden as the only Razorbacks to ever begin their careers with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He then used a school record-tying 10 100-yard rushing efforts to help total 1,577 yards rushing as a junior, soaring to second all-time in program history in career rushing yards with 3,703. He became only the third player in SEC history to open his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons on ground, accompanying McFadden and Georgia great Herschel Walker.
Collins’ 10 100-yard rushing performances – which led the SEC along with Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry – also included five 150-yard performances to equal McFadden’s mark set in 2007. Overall, he racked up 1,577 yards on the ground to rank 12th among FBS running backs.
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native may have saved his most impressive game for last, as he turned 23 carries into 185 yards and three scores in Arkansas’ dominating 45-23 win over Kansas State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Collins’ third touchdown in the game will be a lasting memory for Razorback fans as he broke five tackles with a series of spin moves before lowering his shoulder to get into the end zone on the 14-yard run. The game-sealing touchdown was his 20th of the season, breaking Arkansas’ single-season record that was set in 1969. He also added a 68-yard kick-off return in the first quarter that led to a touchdown and gave Arkansas the lead for good.
In addition to ranking second all-time in program history in career rushing yards, Collins ranks second in 100-yard games (17) and is fourth in rushing touchdowns (36).