Vavra, Irwin Leave Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE — Someone other than Brian Vavra will be kicking off for Arkansas next season, and the Razorbacks must find a new holder on field-goal attempts in 2008.

Vavra, who handled the kickoff duties for the Razorbacks last season, has decided to leave the team because he's close to graduating and wants to pursue other opportunities.

Meanwhile, reserve quarterback Clark Irwin has decided to quit the Razorbacks so he could focus on earning his finance and real estate degree and attending graduate school.

Irwin said he's considering going to Ole Miss, where he hopes to help former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt with his quarterbacks.

"It was very tough (leaving the team) because I've grown up just being such a big Razorback fan myself," said Irwin, a Little Rock native. "And it's really been a dream for me to play for them for the past three years."

Irwin's primary role last season was as the holder for kicker Alex Tejada on field-goal and extra-point attempts.

Vavra, a Bentonville High native, attempted every kickoff for the Razorbacks last season, averaging 41.7 net yards per kick. He also had eight touchbacks.

Vavra would have entered the spring as a junior, meaning he had two years of college eligibility remaining. But he said it didn't make sense financially for him to continue playing at Arkansas.

He joined the Razorbacks as a walk-on.

"I only have three hours (of classes) to go (to graduate), and I would have to be paying for 12 hours this semester to be eligible and then another 12 hours in another semester just so I could play in the season," Vavra said.

"My family, they could afford it and everything, but the better thing for me is just to move on and go on with my life."

Vavra said he has a tryout with the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League scheduled for this afternoon.

His departure means Tejada and rising senior Jeremy Davis will likely compete for Arkansas' kickoff duties next season.

Invited Hogs

Eight former Arkansas players have been invited to Indianapolis, Ind., to participate in the NFL Combine later this month, including wide receiver Marcus Monk and running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

The combine amounts to a large workout for players hoping to get selected in April's NFL Draft.

Joining Monk, McFadden and Jones at the combine will be former Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis, offensive lineman Robert Felton, defensive lineman Marcus Harrison and cornerbacks Michael Grant and Matterral Richardson.

Perhaps No Steele

Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has been rumored to be among the individuals Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is considering for his defensive coordinator opening.

But there have been conflicting reports out of Tuscaloosa as to whether Steele intends to leave the Crimson Tide for another job.

The Birmingham News, citing multiple sources, reported in its Monday edition that Steele has decided to stay at Alabama instead of going to Arkansas or possibly leaving for the South Alabama head coaching job.

The newspaper reported that Steele has spoken with representatives from Arkansas about the defensive coordinator position that came open when Ellis Johnson left for South Carolina on Jan. 24.

But the Mobile Press-Register reported in its Monday edition that Steele is still in the mix for the South Alabama job. It's uncertain if he's also considering joining Petrino's staff at Arkansas.

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