FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Four Arkansas players were honored on Tuesday as members of Rivals.com Freshman All-America teams. Tailback Darren McFadden, linebacker Freddie Fairchild, kick returner Felix Jones and offensive lineman Jonathan Luigs all earned freshman All-America honors for their play this season. McFadden and Fairchild earned first-team honors while Jones and Luigs notched a spot on the second team. Arkansas led the nation with four freshman All-America selections with Texas A&M and Clemson each earning three representatives on the two teams.
“I’m extremely proud of our freshman class and the role they played for us this season,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “A lot of underclassmen had the opportunity to get a lot of snaps this season and I think that will pay off down the line. Darren, Freddie, Felix and Jonathan are certainly deserving of this recognition for their efforts. We will continue to look for bigger and better things from these guys in the years to come.”
McFadden became the first UA freshman in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season finishing his rookie campaign with 1,113 yards on 176 carries. McFadden became only the seventh freshman in the history of the Southeastern Conference to accomplish that feat. In the process, the North Little Rock, Ark., native also set new school records for freshman rushing yards (1,113) and touchdowns (11). McFadden ranks fourth in the SEC and 32nd in the nation in rushing yards per game (101.2). His 101.2 yards-per-game ranks second in the nation among freshman running backs. He racked up five 100-yard rushing games on the season, which also ranks second among freshmen running backs.
Fairchild racked up 59 tackles in 11 games this season. He started the final eight games of the season at the sam linebacker position and averaged 6.3 tackles in that span. He earned six tackles for loss (-28) and two sacks (-16) in his freshman campaign. He also racked up three quarterback hurries and a pass deflection. Fairchild earned a career-high nine tackles in his first start against Alabama. He later matched that tackle total against South Carolina.
Jones is leading the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 31.94 yards per return. Only one other player in the nation is averaging more than 30 yards per return. Jones returned 17 kickoffs for 543 yards and a touchdown. He returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Mississippi State. He is attempting to become the first Razorback to lead the nation in kickoff returns. NCAA statistics will be compiled throughout league championship games and bowl games. Jones ranks sixth and 59th in the SEC and nation, respectively, with an average of 116.4 all-purpose yards per game. He rushed 99 times for 626 yards and three touchdowns. He also snared eight passes for 100 yards.
Luigs was a versatile performer up front for the Hogs this season. He started seven games at right guard before manning the starting position at center for the final three games. He racked up 52 knockdown blocks on the season. He helped clear the way for 10 100-yard rushing efforts by UA running backs and a 1,000-yard rusher (McFadden). Arkansas leads the SEC and ranks 14th in the nation in rushing yards per game (216.91).