FAYETTEVILLE, AR (U of A) – The University of Arkansas placed seven players on the preseason All-SEC teams chosen by the league's coaches, the Southeastern Conference announced Tuesday.
Four student-athletes were selected to the second team, including running back Alex Collins, tight end Hunter Henry and offensive linemen Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper. Three more earned third-honors, including running back Jonathan Williams, offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola and defensive back Rohan Gaines.
Collins joined Darren McFadden as just the second Razorback to ever rush for 1,000-plus yards in each of his first two seasons when he totaled 1,100 yards on 204 carries in 2014. He paired with Williams last season as the only FBS teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards. Collins enters his junior season ranked 14th in school history with 2,126 career rushing yards and is a candidate for both the Maxwell Trophy and Doak Walker Award.
A preseason first-team All-American, Henry has been the SEC's best tight end over the past two seasons, leading the conference with 65 receptions over the two-year span. As a sophomore, Henry caught 37 passes for 513 yards and was named All-SEC second team by the conference's coaches. His marks in receptions and receiving yards both ranked third among the league's tight ends. Henry is on the Mackey Award watch list, given annually to the nation's top tight end.
Kirkland played 853 snaps last season, the second-most for any Razorback offensive lineman. He was dominant, allowing just one sack and four penalties, tying for second on the team with a 79 percent overall grade. The Miami, Fla. native has started 21 consecutive games at right guard, including all 13 contests in 2014. The junior will slide out to left tackle in the 2015 season and is a candidate for the Outland Trophy given to the nation's best interior lineman.
Skipper started all 13 games at left tackle last year, helping the offensive line lead the SEC with just 14 sacks allowed. He earned Associated Press All-SEC honorable mention honors after leading the team's offensive linemen with an 80 percent grade after playing 827 snaps. This offseason he embraced a move to right tackle for the 2015 season where he will use his 6-foot-10 frame to help protect fifth-year starting quarterback Brandon Allen.
A Doak Walker Award candidate, Williams rushed for 1,190 yards last season, the eight-best mark in school history and earned second team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press. He currently ranks No. 10 in school history with 2,321 career rushing yards and sixth with a 5.72 yards per rush average. Williams suffered a foot injury in fall camp that will cause him to miss the 2015 regular season.
Despite arriving to campus just a day before fall camp last year, Tretola started at left guard for the final 11 games of the 2014 season. He played 797 snaps and did not allow a sack, averaging a grade of 79 percent. Tretola has also earned All-America honors from Athlon Sports and was named first team All-SEC by ESPN.
One of two projected senior starters on the Razorback defense, Gaines started 10 games last season and posted 59 tackles. He tied a school record with a memorable 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the shutout victory over No. 8 Ole Miss. The Bainbridge, Ga. native has started 26 games during his career and earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2012.
The Razorbacks kick off their season on Sept. 5 at 2:30 p.m. when they host UTEP. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. Single-game tickets are still available and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 1-800-982-HOGS.