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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
5 Razorbacks invited to NFL combine
East wide receiver Jadon Haselwood of Arkansas catches a pass during practice for the East West Shrine Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas will be well represented at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Receivers Jaden Haselwood and Matt Landers, center Ricky Stromberg, offensive tackle Dalton Wagner and linebacker Drew Sanders will take part in the week-long event at Lucas Oil Field starting Feb. 28 after receiving invitations from the NFL.
Landers and Wagner played big roles in the Razorbacks’ 55-53 triple overtime win against Kansas in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 28. Haselwood, Sanders and Stromberg, who had eligibility remaining if they had elected to take it, declared early for the NFL Draft to begin preparations for the combine and individual workouts.
Haselwood, Stromberg, Wagner and defensive tackle Terry Hampton all had invitations to participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl held last week in Las Vegas. Linebacker Bumper Pool had also accepted an invitation to play in that all-star game, but that was before he underwent two hip surgeries.
Sanders is seen by most NFL Draft analysts as a first-round pick after transferring from Alabama and taking a star turn in his only season at Arkansas with 9.5 sacks to tie for 15th in the country and seventh on the Razorbacks’ single-season list.
Sanders, a 6-5, 233-pounder from Denton, Texas, also had a team-high 103 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6 quarterback hurries, 5 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 1 interception on his packed stat line.
Haselwood and Landers — transfers from Oklahoma and Toledo, respectively — wound up as the top pass catchers for Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson. Haselwood had 59 receptions for 702 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Landers contributed 47 catches for a team-high 901 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Against Kansas in Memphis, Landers had 3 catches for 121 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown, and an end-around run for 15 yards late in the game that led to a controversial fumble ruling that helped trigger the Jayhawks' comeback to force overtime.
Wagner distinguished himself in that game by finishing a sixth season with his 40th start in his 53rd game and helping freshman E’Marion Harris fit in at right guard following an injury to Ty’Kieast Crawford.
Stromberg, the 2021 winner of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, started 44 games during his Arkansas career.
Hampton, a transfer from Arkansas State, notched two tackles, including a 3-yard sack of Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels, in the Liberty Bowl. The El Dorado native had 25 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 1 pass breakup.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive lineman Mark Evans II , a 6-4, 295-pounder from Houston, also received an invitation to the combine.
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