Stromberg declares for NFL, 3 Hogs enter portal

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg (51) is shown during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Fayetteville.
( Hank Layton, NWA Democrat-Gazette )
Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg (51) is shown during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Senior center Ricky Stromberg declared for the NFL Draft and punter Reid Bauer announced he would be entering the transfer portal Tuesday, highlighting the second day of exit interviews for University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman.

Additionally, defensive back Khari Johnson and defensive end Eric Thomas Jr. both announced they would be entering the NCAA transfer portal, which opens next Tuesday.

The Razorbacks (6-6, 3-5 SEC) are awaiting news of their bowl berth Sunday, getting a read on the roster they will bring to the bowl site and searching for a new strength and conditioning coach.

“There’s going to be a lot of action going on, and it’s not just here, it’s everywhere in the country,” Pittman said last week to preview what was coming this week.

Former Razorback Kiero Small, now an assistant on the strength staff at Michigan under Coach Jim Harbaugh, and Ben Herbert, the former strength and conditioning coach at Arkansas, interviewed with Pittman on Monday. Other candidates are also in the mix.

Stromberg, a fourth-year senior from Tulsa who made preseason All-SEC teams, bypassed early entry for the draft last season but elected to forgo a potential bonus year at Arkansas. A source close to the situation said Stromberg, who has 44 career starts, will not play in the Razorbacks’ bowl game.

Stromberg thanked Pittman, Cody Kennedy and Brad Davis, his current and former offensive line coaches with the Razorbacks, in his announcement on social media. He also thanked the fans.

“You guys made the last 4 years unforgettable and I will cherish every moment I’ve had here,” Stromberg wrote.

Bauer, a redshirt senior from Magnolia, Texas, averaged 43.3 yards per punt last season while also winning the Mortell Award as the national holder of the year. He threw a touchdown pass to Blake Kern at Alabama and ran for a first down to set up a field goal against LSU.

This season he averaged 44.6 yards on 23 punts, with a career long of 78 yards, as the primary punter during the second half of the year, replacing freshman Max Fletcher.

He thanked Pittman and special teams coordinator Scott Fountain and wrote, “Thank you Arkansas for some of the best years of my life, I will forever be a hog!”

Johnson, a true junior from Boston, made three starts this season at defensive back as part of a unit that had to mix and match and cross train all season due to a plethora of injuries. He played in nine games in 2020, including one start at cornerback, participated in five games in 2020 and in 10 games this season.

Johnson ranked 13th on the team with 25 tackles, 10 of them solo, and had 1 pass breakup. He did not play in last Friday’s 29-29 loss at Missouri.

Thomas is a true junior from Pensacola, Fla. The 6-3, 253-pounder played in 11 games this season, mostly on special teams, and recorded two assisted tackles.

Pittman said he expects a lot of player transactions this winter, which includes the early signing period from Dec. 21-23, as well as portal movement out and in.

Receiver Jadon Haselwood, a junior, announced late Monday he would be declaring for the NFL Draft rather than returning as a senior, presumably taking him out of bowl preparations for the Razorbacks.

Haselwood, a one-year transfer from Oklahoma, caught at least three passes in every game and finished with a team-high 59 receptions for 702 yards. He caught three touchdown passes and averaged 11.9 yards per catch while playing with an AC joint injury in his left shoulder throughout the season.

Transferring to Arkansas reconnected Haselwood to running backs coach Jimmy Smith, his high school coach at Cedar Grove (Ga.) High School.


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