FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas had 12 players named to the Southeastern Conference Coaches’ preseason All-SEC football teams it was announced on Thursday.
The 12 selections were tied for the second-most in the league behind Auburn’s 14. This marks the third year that SEC coaches have selected preseason All-SEC teams. Three teams were selected for offense, defense and special teams. League coaches also select post-season All-SEC squads.
The Hogs had three first-team selections with running back Darren McFadden on offense, linebacker Sam Olajubutu on defense and return specialist Felix Jones on special teams.
Defensive tackle Keith Jackson was a second-team selection along with offensive guard Stephen Parker. Four Razorbacks were named to the third-team defensive squad, including end Jamaal Anderson, linebacker Freddie Fairchild, defensive backs Michael Grant and Randy Kelly. Fullback Peyton Hillis and offensive linemen Robert Felton and Zac Tubbs were third-team offensive selections.
"I’m excited to see that many of our guys selected to the All-SEC teams by the league coaches," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "All 12 of these players have outstanding credentials and have been a valuable part of our team in the past. I fully expect them to have another outstanding season. I also believe we have some other players that are ready to have a breakout season that could land them on the All-SEC teams by the end of the year."
McFadden is coming off of the best freshman season by any running back in Arkansas history after tallying 1,113 yards on 176 carries. He averaged an SEC-best 6.3 yards per carry and was named a first-team freshman All-American and the SEC Freshman of the Year.
Olajubutu, a senior, finished third in the SEC in tackles in 2005 and led the team with 118. He was an honorable mention All-American last season and is on preseason watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and Lott Trophy.
The first freshman to earn first-team All-America honors in school history, Jones earned first-team preseason All-SEC accolades as a return specialist. He finished second nationally in kickoff returns in 2005, averaging 31.9 yards per return. That average was 6.3 yards better than anyone else in the SEC.
Senior defensive tackle Keith Jackson was named to the second team after a dominating 2005 season. He had 74 tackles to rank fourth on the team, and second in the SEC among defensive linemen. Jackson also posted 6.5 TFL (-32 yards), a team-best three fumble recoveries and six quarterback hurries.
Parker, a senior offensive guard, was a second-team selection after the Hogs’ offensive line paved the way to a SEC-best 216.9 yards rushing per game, which also ranked 12th in the nation. He was third on the team in knockdown blocks with 46, including a team-high 15 against Vanderbilt.
Anderson was one of four Hogs selected to the third-team All-SEC defense. He accounted for 34 of his 47 tackles over the final five games of the 2005 season. Anderson garnered 10.5 TFL (-58 yards), one pass deflection and seven quarterback hurries.
Fairchild is coming off of an outstanding freshman campaign that saw him rack up 59 tackles and start the final nine games of the season at SAM linebacker. He was a first-team freshman All-America selection and the Sporting News named him the SEC’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
Kelly and Grant, both third-team selections, solidify the Razorbacks’ secondary heading into the 2006 season. Kelly is slated to start at strong safety with Grant roaming the secondary at free safety. Kelly racked up 58 tackles a season ago, made two TFL and intercepted a pass and returned it 42 yards. Grant finished second on the team in interceptions with three while making 22 tackles and breaking up seven passes.
Hillis, a junior fullback, was a third-team running back choice by the league coaches. He led the team with 38 receptions in 2005 and was fourth on the team with 315 yards rushing. Hillis accounted for 947 all-purpose yards, third-best on the team.
Tubbs was the Hogs’ starting right tackle in the first five games of 2004 before suffering a season-ending injury in early October. Injuries then limited Tubbs to one game in 2005. Before his injury in 2004, he tallied 18 knockdown blocks and graded out at 89 percent or better in three out of five games.
Felton, slated to start at right guard in 2006, is one of three Razorback offensive linemen named to an All-SEC team. He helped the Hogs gain 2,386 yards on the ground in 2005 for a SEC-best 216.9 yards per game average that also ranked 12th nationally.