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Top 10 Arkansas Razorbacks football players of all time

Top 10 Arkansas Razorbacks football players of all time
Darren McFadden won the Doak Walker Award twice during his time at Arkansas. (Credit: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (BVM) — It’s been nearly 130 years since the University of Arkansas fielded its first football team. And in that time, a lot of talented players have put on the cardinal and red, but these 10 are recognized as the greatest Razorbacks of all-time.

  1. Clyde Scott

From 1946-49, Scott suited up for the Razorbacks. Scott played at the halfback position, and during his time in Fayetteville, he was a first-team all-SWC player, and in 1948 he was recognized as an All-American. Scott also rushed for 1,463 yards in his career, a Razorback record at the time, and averaged seven yards a carry. He was also the first Razorback athlete to win an Olympic medal. 

His No. 12 is one of two jerseys retired by the university. Scott was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

  1. Loyd Phillips 

From 1960-69, the Razorbacks were a force to be reckoned with as the squad racked up an overall record of 82-24-1. And Phillips left his mark during that run from 1964-66. In 1965 and 1966, Phillips was named a first-team All-American. But perhaps his most significant accomplishment came in 1964 when he helped lead the Razorbacks to an undefeated season and a national title win over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. 

Phillips also won the Outland trophy in his senior year, and in 1992 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. 

  1. Felix Jones 

Jones is arguably one of the most explosive athletes ever to put on a Razorback uniform. In his three-year career, Jones produced 5,088 all-purpose yards for Arkansas. He and Darren McFadden (6,442 all-purpose yards) are the only two players in the program’s history to have over 5,000 all-purpose yards. 

In 2007, Jones was named to the second-team All-SEC team and won the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year. With Jones and McFadden, the Razorbacks formed a deadly one-two punch in the backfield.

  1. Steve Atwater

Atwater came into college as a quarterback and switched to safety, which proved to be a fantastic move for him and the Razorbacks. From 1985-88, Atwater patrolled the secondary for the Razorbacks. With Arkansas, Atwater intercepted 14 passes which is still a Razorback record today.

The two-time All-American went on to have a great NFL career winning two Super Bowls and was named to two All-Pro teams. 

  1. Ryan Mallett

Mallett only spent two seasons (2009-10) in Fayetteville, but after achieving what he did in those two seasons, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that he’s the greatest QB to suit up for Arkansas. 

Mallett threw for 7,493 yards (2nd in Arkansas history) and 62 touchdowns (1st in Arkansas history). He also helped lead the Razorbacks to their first BCS Bowl in school history. 

Mallett went on to have a six-year career in the NFL. Mallett is now back in Arkansas, coaching at White Hall High School

  1. Shawn Andrews 

As a freshman in 2001, Andrews took the field for the Razorbacks. He’d go on to be named to two first-team All-SEC teams in his tenure there. During his time there, Andrews was awarded the Jim Parker Trophy Award, which is given to the best offensive lineman in college football.

Andrews won other awards in Arkansas, but one could see that his most outstanding achievement could’ve been giving up only two sacks in his whole college career.

  1. Brandon Burlsworth 

There may have been better offensive linemen to come through Fayetteville, but there may not be one more respected than Burlsworth.

He took a chance on himself, joining the team as a walk-on. He was redshirted in 1994, and after transforming himself into a DI offensive lineman, he earned a full scholarship. He would become a starting lineman in 1996 and play until his final game in the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1999. Burlsworth started 34 straight games for the Razorbacks before entering the 1999 NFL Draft. The Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the third round, but Burlsworth would never play a down in the NFL after passing away in a car accident.  

Burlsworth is only the second player to have his number (No. 77) retired by the Razorbacks.   

  1. Billy Ray Smith Jr. 

Smith Jr. is the only two-time unanimous All-American (1981-82) in Arkansas history. He also has 299 career tackles and 63 tackles for loss, which ranks No. 1 in Razorback history.

Those numbers helped Smith Jr. get drafted in the top five (No. 5) of the 1983 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Smith Jr. would play with the Chargers for 10 years and be awarded second-team All-Pro 1989. Smith Jr. would be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.  

  1. Dan Hampton 

As a senior, Hampton was named the Southwest Conference Player of the Year. Hampton finished his career with 237 tackles and recovered six fumbles. 

Hampton was also a member of the 1985 Bears defense known as “Monsters of the Midway.” He played in 157 total games and is renowned as one of the top players in Bears’ history. He is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 1994 Hampton was named to the All-Century team at Arkansas and was named one of the state’s top 50 athletes of the 20th century

  1. Darren McFadden 

It’s hard to imagine putting anyone over McFadden as the No. 1 player to come through Fayetteville. He is not only one of the best Razorbacks, but one could also argue that he’s one of the best college football players ever.

Following a 1,113-yard freshman season, McFadden would have two remarkable seasons in 2006 and 2007. He would capture the Doak Walker Award twice, finish as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy twice and was named to the All-American team twice. 

McFadden currently holds Arkansas’ rushing record with 4,590 career yards. That also ranks third in SEC history. He is also one of the three SEC players in history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first three seasons.

McFadden was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. With 10 years of NFL experience, he rushed for 5,421 yards and 28 TDs. He finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys, but he’ll always be remembered as the top Arkansas Razorback football player.