To most Razorback fans the two times that Darren McFadden ended up second in the Heisman Trophy balloting amounted to a screw job. In 2006 the award went to Ohio State’s Troy Smith with the reasoning at the time that no sophomore had ever won the Heisman. A year later Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, a sophomore, beat out D-Mac for college football’s most publicized award. So much for the underclassman excuse.
But Arkansas’ best running back ever didn’t exactly end his college career empty handed. D-Mac was a two time winner of the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in college football and he was named the 2007 player of the year in college football. Oh, and along the way he also piled up 25 All America awards. In fact McFadden made so many trips to New York based awards ceremonies he almost qualifies as a resident of the Big Apple.
“I’ve been there a few times,” McFadden said with a chuckle as he discussed yet another trip he will be making there, this time on December 10th when he will become the tenth Razorback player all time to be inducted into the College Football Hall of fame, a year after being named an SEC Legend.
“It was amazing,” Mc Faddden recalled. “They sent me a letter just to notify me that I was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I’m still at a loss of words. It’s definitely a great honor and I’m very thankful for it.”
Thankful for the help he got along the way from teammates, coaches, teachers, fans and family members according the former North Little Rock Oak Grove running back who ended up as the 4th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. In spite of his time in Oakland and Dallas McFadden admitted that football for him has been about the Razorbacks from the moment he was offered a scholarship by then Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt.
“To be able to play seven years in Oakland and three in Dallas, it was great to play ten years in the NFL but I can say (compared to) my college accomplishments the NFL didn’t even compare to that,” McFadden stressed.
And what are his favorite memories of his three years on the Hill?
“It was a joy to play for coach Nutt. I’m still in contact with him to this day and we had so many great games,” McFadden recalled. “LSU was number one in the country and we beat them in triple overtime. Being able to tie an SEC record against South Carolina, (321 rushing yards in 2007) it’s definitely one of those. Also anytime I could get back there and line up in that Wildcat formation and stand behind the center like I’m the quarterback and run the offense, I loved it.”
McFadden will be inducted in a 2019 Hall of fame class that includes names like Vince Young, Rocket Ismail, Jake Plummer and Troy Polamalu.
“To be in the same boat with guys like that, it’s an amazing feeling,” D-Mac admitted. I’m really looking forward to the ceremonies.”
What is it like to once again represent the University of Arkansas and the state of Arkansas on a big stage?
“It’s a great honor for me. I’m an Arkansas guy through and through. Anytime I can represent my state and bring a light to it, I Iove it.”
These days he’s an Arkansas guy “through and through” as a fan even during the difficult 2-10 season for new head coach Chad Morris and his players.
“It was a down year for us but I’m a fan win lose or draw,” McFadden declared. “I love what coach Morris is doing now. (in recruiting) They’re going in the right direction. From the Bielema era there’s two different schemes of offense but with him getting a lot of his recruits in there they’ll definitely start meshing a lot better.”