Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
DT Thomas back for NFL Combine
Arkansas running back Alex Collins, left, and defensive tackle Robert Thomas celebrate Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, after the Hogs' win at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Robert Thomas broke his left tibia Oct. 12, and today, 122 days after that season-ending injury, the former Arkansas defensive tackle will report to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis for the next step in his rehabilitation process.
“It’s just a blessing for me to be able to go there,” said Thomas. “It’s like a dream come true. Since being a child, that’s one of your goals.”
NFL Scouting Combine
WHEN Today through Tuesday
WHERE Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis
WHAT All 32 NFL teams are at the combine, evaluating and testing the top-rated prospects for May’s NFL Draft
TV NFL Network (check listings for times)
NOTEWORTHY Players with Arkansas ties invited to the combine are Arkansas State defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers (Monday workout), Arkansas place-kicker Zach Hocker (Saturday), Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith (Monday), Arkansas center Travis Swanson (Saturday) and Arkansas defensive tackle Robert Thomas (Monday).
Thomas will only go through medical testing, team interviews and the bench press at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. He might add drills to his workload for Arkansas’ pro day March 5.
“I have a private workout being set up in April and I’m planning to run [the 40-yard dash] there,” Thomas said.
Thomas credited Arkansas trainer Matt Summers and his staff with facilitating his recovery from the broken leg. A native of Muskogee, Okla., Thomas has remained with his wife and family in Fayetteville during rehabilitation.
Three other former Arkansas players - kicker Zach Hocker, defensive end Chris Smith and offensive lineman Travis Swanson - have arrived already at the combine.
Smith, Thomas and Arkansas State defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers are part of the defensive line and linebackers group who will have on-field workouts Monday.
Specialists, offensive linemen and tight ends will have workouts Saturday. Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs will take the field Sunday. Defensive backs arrive Saturday and work out Tuesday, the final day of the combine.
Swanson goes in as the most highly regarded prospect. The Kingwood, Texas, native, who started all 50 games of his Arkansas career at center is the No. 3-rated center by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock behind Southern California’s Marcus Martin and Colorado State’s Weston Richburg.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, who sent a stream of centers and other linemen to the league while at Wisconsin, said he expects Swanson to be taken in the first or second round.
Sports, Pages 27 on 02/21/2014