It starts with McFad­den

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - TOM MUR­PHY

FAYET­TEVILLE — Twotime Heis­man Tro­phy run­ner-up Dar­ren McFad­den head­lines the All-Arkansas SEC teams as voted on by a panel of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette sports staff.

McFad­den, a Lit­tle Rock na­tive and the SEC’s No. 2 all­time rusher with 4,590 yards, was one of 10 unan­i­mous first-team choices by the vot­ers.

Wide re­ceiver An­thony Lu­cas, tight end Hunter Henry, of­fen­sive tackle Shawn An­drews, of­fen­sive guard Bran­don Burlsworth, safeties Ken Ham­lin and Kenoy Kennedy, de­fen­sive tackle Melvin Bradley, re­turn spe­cial­ist Felix Jones and kicker Zach Hocker were the other unan­i­mous first­team se­lec­tions.

The Demo­crat-Gazette went three-deep with its All-Arkansas SEC se­lec­tions, con­clud­ing a sum­mer­long series on the 25 most mem­o­rable games dur­ing Arkansas’ 25 years in the SEC.

McFad­den, a two-time win­ner of the Doak Walker Award as the na­tion’s top run­ning back, the 2007 Wal­ter Camp Player of the Year and two-time All-Amer­i­can, is not only the most cel­e­brated Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball player ever, but he is one of the

most im­pact­ful the col­lege game has seen since Arkansas joined the SEC.

McFad­den was a key fig­ure in five of the games in the top 25, in­clud­ing game No. 4, a

50-48 triple-over­time vic­tory at No. 1 LSU in 2007 in which he rushed for 206 yards and three touch­downs and threw a touch­down pass, and game

No. 20 when he rushed for a school-record 321 yards, ty­ing the SEC record, in a 48-36 vic­tory over South Carolina in 2007.

The head coach is Hous­ton Nutt, who like McFad­den, was raised in Lit­tle Rock.

Nutt com­piled a 75-48 record in 10 sea­sons on The Hill, led Arkansas to 2 SEC cham­pi­onship games, 1 out­right SEC West ti­tle in 2006 and 2 co-SEC West crowns in 1998 and 2002. He won a tight vote over Bobby Petrino, who had a bet­ter over­all record (34-17) in four sea­sons and led the Ra­zor­backs to their only Bowl Cham­pi­onship Series berth af­ter the 2010 sea­son and a late-sea­son No. 3 rank­ing in 2011.

One of the cher­ished mo­ments of the past 25 years for Arkansas fans in­volved both McFad­den and Nutt, who were be­ing in­ter­viewed by Tracy Wolf­son of CBS in the af­ter­math of Arkansas’ 50-48 vic­tory over No. 1 LSU in three over­times.

McFad­den, car­ry­ing a mini base­ball bat sig­ni­fy­ing that Arkansas brought the wood to Ba­ton Rouge, stood be­hind Nutt, in what turned out to be his last game as Arkansas’ coach, and Nutt ap­pealed to Heis­man vot­ers not to for­get about the Arkansas run­ning back.

“It’s guys like Dar­ren McFad­den,” Nutt said, as he em­braced with McFad­den. “You all bet­ter put him in the Heis­man. I’m tired of him be­ing No. 3 or No. 4. Some­body bet­ter look at this guy. He’s the best foot­ball player in the coun­try and his name’s not be­ing men­tioned. Lou Holtz, Mark May, No. 5, you bet­ter look at him a lit­tle closer. He’s a foot­ball player.”

First-team quar­ter­back Matt Jones led the Ra­zor­backs to vic­to­ries in seven-over­time games at Ole Miss (No. 3 in the count­down) in 2001, and at Ken­tucky (No. 8) in 2003. Those games are tied for the longest in NCAA his­tory.

McFad­den is joined in the back­field by Alex Collins, who rushed for 3,703 yards in three sea­sons and be­longs in a three­mem­ber club with McFad­den and Ge­or­gia’s Her­schel Walker as the only SEC play­ers to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first three sea­sons as a col­le­gian.

The first-team full­back is Pey­ton Hil­lis, who com­bined with McFad­den and Felix Jones to form one of col­lege foot­ball’s most for­mi­da­ble back­fields in the mid2000s.

Lu­cas and Jar­ius Wright are the top re­ceivers: Lu­cas ranks sec­ond in re­ceiv­ing yards at Arkansas with 2,879; Wright holds the school record with 2,934 ca­reer re­ceiv­ing yards.

Henry, a unan­i­mous All-Amer­ica pick in 2015, won the Mackey Award as the na­tion’s top tight end that sea­son and played a key role along with Collins in game No. 5 on the Demo­crat-Gazette’s count­down, a 53-52 over­time vic­tory at Ole Miss in 2015 that is known for the Henry Heave, when Henry caught a fourth-down pass short of first-down dis­tance in over­time, threw a des­per­a­tion lat­eral that landed in the hands of Collins and turned into a first down.

An­drews and Tony Ugoh are the first-team of­fen­sive tack­les, with Burlsworth and Se­bas­tian Tre­tola hold­ing down the guard spots.

Cen­ter Jonathan Luigs, the Rim­ing­ton Tro­phy win­ner in 2007, who was a nar­row choice over Travis Swan­son. An­drews, a first-team All-Amer­i­can in 2002 and 2003, is one of four Ra­zor­back line­men to achieve that sta­tus dur­ing the pro­gram’s 25 years in the SEC. The others are Burlsworth in 1998, Luigs in 2007 and Swan­son in 2013.

Hocker is Arkansas’ all-time lead­ing scorer with 354 points and the school record-holder with a .772 ca­reer field-goal per­cent­age (61 of 79).

Ham­lin, an All-SEC choice in 2001 and 2002, and Kennedy, who made the 1999 All-SEC team, were unan­i­mous se­lec­tions on de­fense along with Bradley. They are joined in the sec­ondary by cor­ner­backs Chris Hous­ton (All SEC 2006) and Or­lando Wat­ters (All-SEC 1993).

Vot­ing at line­backer was par­tic­u­larly tight, with Jer­maine Petty (All-Amer­i­can 2001) and Mark Smith (All-SEC 1995) ty­ing for first-team hon­ors, fol­lowed closely by Quin­ton Caver (All-SEC 2000) and Jerry Franklin (sec­ond team All-SEC 2011).

Franklin’s 382 tack­les rank sec­ond at Arkansas be­hind sec­ond-team safety se­lec­tion Tony Bua (408).

Ja­maal An­der­son (All-SEC 2006) and Trey Flow­ers (sec­ond team All-SEC 2013-14) edged out Steven Con­ley (All-SEC 1995), Henry Ford (All-SEC 1992) and Jake Be­quette (All-SEC 2011) at de­fen­sive end.

Bradley (All-SEC 1998) was a run­away choice for first-team de­fen­sive tackle along with Dar­ius Philon (sec­ond team All-SEC 2014).

The team’s punter is Pete Raether, an All-SEC choice in 1992, the Ra­zor­backs’ first sea­son in the SEC, when he av­er­aged 43.2 yards per punt.

Felix Jones, who re­turned four kick­offs for touch­downs, holds the Arkansas record with a 28.2-yard av­er­age on kick­off re­turns, and he’s sec­ond with 1,749 ca­reer kick­off re­turn yards. The two-time All-Amer­ica re­turn spe­cial­ist head­lined a stel­lar list of all-pur­pose choices that in­cluded Den­nis John­son, Joe Adams and DeCori Birm­ing­ham.

John­son is the SEC’s all-time leader in kick­off re­turn yards with 2,784. Adams, who re­turned five punts for touch­downs, won the first Johnny “The Rocket” Rodgers Award and was a con­sen­sus All Amer­ica re­turn spe­cial­ist in 2011

when he re­turned four punts for touch­downs.

Birm­ing­ham holds the Arkansas record for re­turn yardage in a game with 219 against Alabama in 2002. He ranks sec­ond be­hind John­son with 1,867 ca­reer re­turn yards.

The Demo­crat-Gazette’s 25 most mem­o­rable Ra­zor­backs games in the SEC era wrapped up last Sun­day with the No. 1 game, Arkansas’ 28-24 loss at No. 1 Ten­nessee in 1998.

That game, nick­named “The Sto­erner Stum­ble” for a key turnover at the end, re­ceived seven first-place votes from our panel. The sec­ond-place game, a 21-20 vic­tory over LSU in 2002, dubbed the “Mir­a­cle on Markham,” earned three first-place votes.

Four other games re­ceived at least one first-place vote.

The Ra­zor­backs’ 50-48 vic­tory in triple over­time at No. 1 LSU, the fi­nal game coached by Nutt, earned two votes at No. 1. Three games polled one first-place vote: The Ra­zor­backs’ 58-56 vic­tory at Ole Miss in seven over­times in 2001; The Citadel’s 10-3 up­set of Arkansas in the 1992 sea­son opener in the Hogs’ first game as an SEC mem­ber; and the Ra­zor­backs’ 31-23 vic­tory over No. 6 LSU on the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing 2010, which cat­a­pulted Arkansas to the Sugar Bowl in its only ap­pear­ance in the Bowl Cham­pi­onship Series.

The top 25 games in­cluded 17 Arkansas vic­to­ries and 8 losses, in­clud­ing a 31-26 set­back to Ohio State in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State ended up va­cat­ing the vic­tory be­cause of its use of in­el­i­gi­ble play­ers.

Among 25 most mem­o­rable games, four came against LSU, and all were vic­to­ries.

Three games on the list came against Ten­nessee, in­clud­ing the Vol­un­teers’ 28-24 vic­tory in 1998 and Arkansas’ 28-24 vic­tory in 1999. Arkansas’ up­set of No. 5 Ten­nessee in 1992 was also on the list.

A fourth Ten­nessee game, a 4138 loss in six over­times in 2002, fin­ished at No. 26. There were also three games against Florida, all losses, two in SEC cham­pi­onship games, in the count­down.

Two vic­to­ries over Ole Miss, in­clud­ing the 53-52 over­time tri­umph in 2015, made the top five games.

Vic­to­ries over Texas (1999 Cot­ton Bowl, 2003 sea­son) and Alabama (1995, 1998) ac­counted for four of the most mem­o­rable 25 games.

Five over­time games that com­bined for 19 over­time pe­ri­ods were part of the count­down, with four of those games fin­ish­ing in the top eight. The lone over­time loss in the count­down, a 34-31 set­back against Louisiana-Mon­roe in 2012, placed No. 19.

Five more over­time games were among the next 20 games out­side the top 25, in­clud­ing the Ra­zor­backs’ 41-38 vic­tory in two ex­tra pe­ri­ods at No. 15 TCU last sea­son, and a 54-46 tri­umph in four over­times against Auburn in 2015.

Arkansas will take a 12-6 record in over­time games, in­clud­ing three vic­to­ries in a row, into the 2017 sea­son.

Games against each of the Ra­zor­backs’ cur­rent SEC West ri­vals made the count­down with one ex­cep­tion: Mis­sis­sippi State.

The clos­est to the count­down of any game against the Bull­dogs — a 51-50 loss on a blocked field goal in the fi­nal 30 sec­onds in 2015, polled at No. 27.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette photo il­lus­tra­tions

Hous­ton Nutt Matt Jones Dar­ren McFad­den ARKANSAS’ BEST FROM THE SEC ERA A QUAR­TER CEN­TURY OF THE HOGS IN THE SEC

Kenoy Kennedy Ken Ham­lin

Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

Shawn An­drews was a two-time con­sen­sus All-Amer­i­can at tackle for Arkansas in 2002-03 and was a fi­nal­ist for the Lom­bardi Award and the Out­land Tro­phy.

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