FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas junior center Frank Ragnow announced Tuesday he’s returning to the Razorbacks as a 2017 senior.
Austin Allen, the Razorbacks’ 2017 senior-to-be starting quarterback, top backup 2017 sophomore to-be running back Devwah Whaley and 2017 junior-to-be starting left offensive guard Hjalte Froholdt are overjoyed to have their center of attention again.
Ragnow,a three-year letterman and two-year starter,had submitted his name for early NFL draft consideration with the option to return.
All the while he has practiced to play for Arkansas in the Belk Bowl Dec. 29 against the Virginia Tech Hokies in Charlotte, N.C.
Ragnow of Chanhassen, Minn. whose father, Dan Ragnow, died of a sudden heart attack in Minnesota hours after the Razorbacks defeated Alcorn State on Oct. 1 in Little Rock, announced his decision on the Razorbacks’ website with emotional references to his father and the support given by his Razorbacks teammates and fans.
"I’m excited and proud to say I’ll be returning for my senior season," Ragnow expressed through the website. "I can’t wait to play for, with and be inspired by my FAMILY when I put on that Arkansas uniform. I know the NFL is in my future, but I want to be the best center in college football as a Razorback. I want to lead and motivate my teammates who have helped me grow as a Razorback. I want to walk across the graduation stage as a Razorback. And I want to start helping others who have lost their father at a young age as a Razorback."
Graduating fifth-year senior tight end Jeremy Sprinkle of White Hall, Allen of Fayetteville Whaley of Beaumont, Texas and Froholdt of Svendborg, Denmark ,were the media available offensive players after the Razorbacks practiced Tuesday.
"That’s huge right there for everyone," Allen said. "Selfishly I didn’t want him to go. Just having him coming back, he’s one of, if not THE best player on our team right now. That’s huge for our offense next year and the whole team."
Especially for the quarterback since Ragnow is the guy snapping the ball to him?
"Huge!" Allen said. "He can get everyone doing the right thing out there. He does a lot of things out there to go along with being the best center in college football in my mind. It’s a five-star guy coming back for us and that’s the biggest recruit we can get right there."
Whaley and presumably sophomore running back Rawleigh Williams are too. Running behind Ragnow and All-SEC senior tackle Dan Skipper as the offensive line anchors, Williams rushed for a SEC leading 1,326 yard while debuted as an often used backup netting 601 yards and 3 touchdowns on 105 carries.
"It’s an awesome feeling to know that he’s coming back and know he’s going to be up front blocking for me again," Whaley said. "With him coming back it’s a chance to have another good season next year. It’s like a big brotherhood with us and the O-line. It’s pretty special."
Froholdt might be happiest of all. Denmark born playing football catch-up not playing American football until as a high school exchange student in Ohio, Froholdt had played defensive line in Ohio and one year at the IMG Academy in Florida and lettered in 2015 at Arkansas as a true freshman backup defensive lineman.
He wasn’t moved to offensive line until last spring and proceeded to start every game with Ragnow and Skipper coaching him almost as much as offensive line coach Kurt Anderson.
"Frank and Skip and Coach Anderson have helped me out a lot," Froholdt said. "Coach Anderson can help me out a lot but during the game Frank can help me out with what I need to do. Having him next to me is a nice comfort zone to have. It’s really awesome having him next to me. I’m super excited for Frank to come back not only for the team but me personally. He has been a mentor for me throughout the year."