From coaching changes to back-to-back losing seasons....the senior class for the Razorbacks, experienced their share of heartache and disappointment. But this weekend's NFL Draft was a testament of perserverance and patience.
"Coach Petrino was one of those guys that had us mentally tough. Coach John L. Smith just wanted us to go out there and work hard and Coach Bielema... he's a great guy.. a players coach and he got us big in the weight room. That's one thing about it, I learned good things from all three of the coaches." says Chris Smith
Chris Smith began day three, selected by Jacksonville in the 5th round. Smith made an immediate impact on Jaguars head coach, Gus Bradley.. who coached the Smith's, South team.
"The competition level was very high and I just wanted to come in and prove myself. And love Jacksonville's defense...even when the draft started on Thursday, I always talked about Jacksonville's defense...even from the Senior Bowl. You know, I'm just glad they believed in me and just picked me up." says Smith
"He's a very good football player...very instinctive and he's short... for a Defensive End. I've been around guys like that with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. They didn't have the actual height, but he has 34-plus inches arms to make up for that in length." says David Caldwell, Jaguars General Manager
What Kiero Small lacks in stature... he makes up for in toughness. That was enough to impress Seattle...as the world champion Seahawks picked Small in the 7th round.
"Man, it's a great feeling...it's a great feeling. The Seahawks are one of my favorite teams. Just the brand of football that they play. For them to think enough of me and bring me in...you know, drafting me, it's a great feel." says Kiero Small
"He just digs people out. It's very natural for him, because he's low to the ground and I can say that it's OK." says John Schnieder, Seahawks General Manager
"He's a great attitude guy. We love adding him to the team...because he's epitome of what the fullbacks got. It's really exciting." says Pete Carroll, Seahawks Head Coach
And the excitment continued for Hog fans with the very next pick.. as Russellville native, Zach Hocker was drafted by Washington. Hocker was the first of only two kickers selected during the entire three days.
"His leg strenght is very good. A very productive kicker at Arkansas. His kickoffs were.. I think he was ranked 9th or 10th in the nation as far as touchbacks, which is excellent. And he was a productive kicker, obviously all throughout college. So, he'll come in and compete for the kicking spot, obviously." says Jay Gruden, Redskins Head Coach