FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Athlon Sports named seven Arkansas football players to its preseason All-SEC teams Tuesday.
Rimington Trophy candidate Frank Ragnow hauled in first-team honors, leading the way for the Razorbacks. Additionally, senior quarterback Austin Allen, sophomore running back Devwah Whaley, senior wide receiver Jared Cornelius, sophomore defensive lineman McTelvin Agim and junior defensive back Ryan Pulley were third-team selections, while junior linebacker Dre Greenlaw earned fourth-team acclaim.
Ragnow will enter his senior campaign after being named the nation’s best offensive lineman, best run blocker and a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus (PFF) last season. A native of Victoria, Minnesota, Ragnow helped pave the way for running back Rawleigh Williams III to capture the SEC regular-season rushing title with 1,326 yards and provided time for Allen to throw for an SEC-best 3,430 yards. Williams topped the century mark seven times on the ground, while Allen tallied four 300-plus yard passing games. The Razorbacks manufactured 428.4 yards of total offense per game, highlighted by five games with both 200 yards rushing and passing.
In his first season as the Razorbacks’ top signal-caller, Allen immediately made his mark by leading the SEC with 3,430 passing yards, including a league-best 2,291 in conference play. Behind nine multi-touchdown pass games, he totaled 25 scoring throws to rank second in the conference.
Whaley, who backed up Williams last season and rushed for 602 yards and three touchdowns on 110 carries, is slated to be the Razorbacks’ starting running back for the 2017 season. The Beaumont, Texas, product flashed explosiveness with runs for 75, 50, 34 and 30 yards and receptions for 43, 26, 26 and 23 yards, while becoming just the fourth Razorback in school history to record two 100-yard rushing games as a freshman.
Highlighted by three 100-plus yard receiving performances, Cornelius recorded 32 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdown catches. Prior to 2016, he had never totaled 100 or more yards receiving in a single game. After racking up 100-plus yards through the air in Weeks 4, 5 and 6, Cornelius matched a 20-year old school record of three straight 100-yard receiving efforts, joining Anthony Lucas (1996) and Mike Reppond (1971) as the only three players in school history to accomplish that feat.
An SEC All-Freshman team selection, Agim, started five of 13 games played last season. He recorded at least one-half tackle for loss in seven games, totaling 5.5 during that span to rank tied for third on the team. The Texarkana, Texas, native also tied for second among SEC freshmen in sacks with 2.5. Agim made his first career start at defensive tackle in the Razorbacks’ 31-10 win at home against then-No. 11 Florida on Nov. 5, and never relinquished the role.
Pulley led Arkansas with 13 pass breakups, while collecting 47 tackles. His 13 pass breakups also ranked second in the SEC and tied for 12th in the FBS. The Fort Myers, Florida, native also forced two interceptions, including one he returned 25 yards for a touchdown.
Greenlaw saw limited action in 2016 due to a foot injury. He started all seven games played and finished with 42 tackles and one interception. The Fayetteville product earned Freshman All-America honors in 2015 after he totaled 95 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, forced two fumbles and recorded one interception.
Athlon’s all-conference teams are based on how players will perform in 2017. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2017 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.