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Hogs: Former football players begin all-star run

FAYETTEVILLE — The college football season may be over, but there are still a few games left for outgoing seniors as they prepare for the NFL Draft.

The Senior Bowl is the most recognized of the bunch and will be played on Jan. 25 in Mobile, Ala. But there are two other games worth noting today: The East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif.

Arkansas kicker Zach Hocker will participate in the East-West Shrine Game, while fullback Kiero Small plays in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Both are hoping to make impressions on NFL personnel as they work toward a pro football career.

ESPN televised portions of practices at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Thursday and highlighted Small after he pulled in a one-handed catch out of the backfield. Bill Polian, who worked in the Indianapolis Colts’ front office from 1998-2011 and is now an NFL analyst for ESPN, said Small was an interesting prospect.

“I’ve got a feeling if he’s fast enough he could make it as a running back because he’s got punch,” Polian said during the practice telecast. “As you could see there, he can adjust and catch the ball. It’s a question of how fast he’s going to be. But he’s a guy that’s interesting. You’re going to want to go back and do a little more work on him.”

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay agreed.

“He has some run skills,” McShay said. “To be honest, watching him catch the ball is what impresses me the most. He’s able to run the routes and adjust to the ball; that’s something you want to see more and more of. Because if he can catch the ball and he has run skills and he can block, then you’ve got someone that provides versatility that maybe is worth a back end of the roster spot.”

Center Travis Swanson and defensive end Chris Smith should receive even more attention among Arkansas’ draft hopefuls. Both were invited to participate in the prestigious Senior Bowl and will report to Mobile, Ala., this weekend.

Both are scheduled to play for the South squad, which will be coached by the Jacksonville Jaguars staff. The North will be coached by the Atlanta Falcons.

At A Glance

All-Star Game For Razorbacks

Below is a schedule of all-star games former Arkansas Razorbacks will play in during the next few weeks:

Today: East-West Shrine Game — K Zach Hocker (NFL Network, 3 p.m.).

Today: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl — FB Kiero Small (ESPN2, 5 p.m.).

Jan. 25: Senior Bowl — C Travis Swanson and DE Chris Smith (NFL Network, 5 p.m.).

Feb. 14: College All-Star Bowl — S Eric Bennett, OT David Hurd, DT Byran Jones and LB Jarrett Lake (CBS Sports Network, 5 p.m.).

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