Arkansas' Collins declares for NFL draft after rushing for 1,000 yards in 3 straight seasons



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FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — Running back Alex Collins says he is leaving Arkansas after his junior season and declaring for the NFL draft, ending a collegiate career that saw him become the second all-time career leading rusher for the Razorbacks.

Collins rushed for 1,577 yards this season for Arkansas (8-5), including 185 yards in a 45-23 win over Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2.

It was the third time in as many seasons the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Collins topped 1,000 yards rushing. He finished with a school-record 20 rushing touchdowns this season.

Collins' 3,703 career rushing yards are second in Arkansas history behind two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden's 4,590 yards. He topped 100 yards rushing 10 times this season, matching McFadden's 2007 mark for the most in a single season in school history.

"Without a doubt this has been one of the most difficult weeks of my life as I try to make the right decision for my future," Collins wrote in a letter posted on the school's website. "... I also see a future in the NFL as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said before the Liberty Bowl that Collins had received a mid-round draft evaluation grade from the NFL, and that he planned to talk with the running back in his Florida home about his draft status last week.

"Coach Bielema has been a guiding mentor in my life for several years, and I want to personally thank him for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play at Arkansas," Collins wrote.

Collins' departure leaves a void in the Razorbacks' backfield, particularly when combined with the graduation of fellow standout running back Jonathan Williams.

The two were the only running backs in major college football to each top 1,000 yards rushing during the 2014 season, and Collins was able to help offset the loss of an injured Williams this season.

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