Wise, Ledbetter boost NFL Draft stock as Razorbacks stun Gators in Fayetteville
A pair of Arkansas defensive linemen stood out in their team's blowout win over Florida
The Gators entered the contest ranked second in college football in scoring defense, allowing just 11.7 points per game. Arkansas, meanwhile, was coming off a nightmare performance in which it surrendered 632 total yards in a 56-3 trouncing by Auburn.
From the opening series of this game, however, it looked as if the Gators and Razorbacks had switched jerseys during warmups, with Arkansas stunning No. 11 Florida 31-10 in front of a jubilant crowd in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks provided much of the intensity, with sophomore running back Rawleigh Williams III and senior defensive linemen Deatrich Wise, Jr. and Jeremiah Ledbetter stealing the spotlight away from Florida's bevy of high-ranking NFL prospects, many of whom struggled Saturday with costly penalties and injuries.
The powerfully-built Williams eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fifth time this season, gashing the Gators for 148 yards on 26 attempts with two touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 223-pound Williams wasn't just tough and determined in shedding would-be tacklers. He showed impressive vision to set up his blocks, as well as the burst to accelerate to and through the hole, breaking free on a 41-yard touchdown with 5:40 remaining to ice the win.
In terms of boosting their NFL stock, the more impactful performance came from Arkansas' senior defensive linemen, Wise and Ledbetter.
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound Wise is considered Arkansas' best NFL prospect but he has struggled with various injuries this season, including to his hand and shoulder. After recording eight sacks a year ago, he entered Saturday's game with only three through eight games, slipping down draft boards as a result.
Wise looked refreshed against Florida, however, making plays on the edge against the run and even sliding inside to defensive tackle to record two sacks and multiple pressures. NFL coaches will be intrigued with his combination of initial quickness, long arms and power.
At 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, Ledbetter lacks his teammate's length and explosiveness. He did a lot of the dirty work up front for Arkansas in this contest, however, holding up to double teams in the running game and helping to set the edge while also splitting duties inside and out.
Florida's top prospects, on the other hand, largely struggled in this game.
The Gators boast one of the top duos in the country at cornerback in juniors Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Though neither was consistently beaten Saturday, each drew flags in the end zone for pass interference in this contest.
All-SEC safety Marcus Maye - a top-50 candidate, himself - struggled even more, surrendering a touchdown to sneaky Arkansas slot receiver Drew Morgan just before halftime and extending a Razorbacks' scoring drive with a pass interference penalty of his own on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the most troubling news for Florida's top NFL prospects, however, was the injury sustained to senior linebacker Jarrad Davis.
The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Davis is listed second among senior linebackers on NFLDraftScout.com's board due to his range and versatility. He's struggled with various injuries throughout his career, however, and had to be consoled on the sideline during this game after a troublesome ankle injury once again robbed him of his trademark speed and explosiveness.
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