No looking back for Hogs’ Ragnow
FAYETTEVILLE — No Arkansas Razorbacks football player can play the what-if game like Frank Ragnow can.
What if Ragnow, a three-year lettermen at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, had opted to enter the 2017 NFL Draft after a junior season in 2016 that saw him earn second-team All-SEC honors?
Ragnow, as the NCAA allows, explored his NFL draft possibilities before withdrawing his name from consideration to return as Arkansas’ starting center.
At 6-5, 320 pounds, Ragnow has gone from being an occasional starter at center as a true freshman, to every game starting offensive guard in 2015 to much-heralded starting center in 2016.
Ragnow, from Victoria, Minn., says he sometimes thinks about how he could be earning money right now.
“It’s weird,” Ragnow said. “Me having that option earlier this year of leaving or coming back there are definitely days where you are like, ‘Wow! That could be me training for the NFL right now!’
But Ragnow said he is looking for a larger reward down the road that could come his way after spending another under season under coach Bret Bielema, offensive line coach Kurt Anderson and strength coach Ben Herbert.
“You take a step back, and it’s like I get a whole other year of preparation,” Ragnow said, realizing what more recognition, such as All-America mention, could bring him on the NFL Draft market. “I get a whole other year with Coach Herb. A whole other year with Coach Anderson, a whole other year of maturity and to understand football. That gives me a step up on the guys in the next class. It’s all working out. Coach B has been phenomenal. Coach Anderson has been phenomenal. Coach Herb … everybody has been phenomenal.”
In retrospect, Ragnow said, it might not have been all that bad to have redshirted as a freshman and play 2018 as a fifth-year senior.
“I think there is no one you can say that a redshirt year wouldn’t benefit,” Ragnow said. “It’s a year to get a step up on your playbook and your physicality and all that stuff. I don’t think there is anyone who can say a redshirt year wouldn’t benefit them.”
That won’t happen now, with Ragnow primed for next spring’s draft and approaching graduation as a sports management honors student.
Plus, Ragnow said, there is unfinished business with the Razorbacks. What if he and senior quarterback Austin Allen can lead the Hogs to a rebound from a dismal finish of 2016 when Arkansas blew halftime leads of 24-7 at Missouri and 24-0 against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl to end the season with losses of 28-24 and 35-24.
“I regret as a junior not being more vocal,” Ragnow said. “So you see a lot of guys like myself and Austin and a lot of guys really trying to get out of our comfort zone and be a vocal leader. That’s the most important thing.”