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Lucas still making big plays for Arkansas

Lucas still making big plays for Arkansas

Anthony Lucas ran many pass routes as a football player in his time at the University of Arkansas. Whether it was a hitch and go an out route or a simple fade, few Razorback wide receivers did it with as much grace and skill as the slender 6-3 product from Tallulah, La.

However, it was a post route that permanently etched Lucas’ name in the memories of Razorback football fans forever on a late October afternoon in 1999. With 3:44 to play, Lucas split the defenders to haul in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Razorback quarterback Clint Stoerner to lead Arkansas to a 28-24 win over No. 3 and defending national c hampion Tennessee in Fayetteville. Razorback fans rushed the field and carried the goal posts to Dickson Street in one of the most exciting finishes in recent Razorback history.

Some might mistakenly assume that Lucas’ path to that storybook finish came off without a hitch. Instead it was only after countless hours of personal sacrifice, commitment and hard work on the field and in the classroom that Lucas even had the opportunity to make the biggest catch of his life.

Lucas enrolled at the University of Arkansas in the fall of 1994 as a part-time student and a partial qualifier. His ACT score didn’t meet the requirement to be eligible for his first semester on a college campus. He quietly went about his school work improving his academic resume before ever setting foot even on the practice field. In the spring of 1995, he joined the football team for the first time and prepared for his freshman season.

His hard work began to pay dividends as he posted a then-Arkansas freshman record with 27 catches for 526 yards and four touchdowns in 1995 to help the Razorbacks win the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division title. Things appeared to be heading in the right direction for the All-SEC Freshman selection. It wasn’t long, however, before Lucas would face adversity again.

In the 1996 season opener, Lucas suffered a season-ending injury that left him on the sidelines once again. He applied his grit and determination and was back after a medical hardship for his sophomore season in 1997. After making 27 catches for 495 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore, he exploded on the national scene with 43 receptions for a school record 1,004 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 1998. He earned second-team All-SEC honors for his efforts.

A pre-season All-America selection, Lucas capped his career with a 37 receptions for 822 yards and four touchdowns as senior in 1999. He earned third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press and first-team All-SEC recognition.

He remains Arkansas all-time leading receiver with 2,879 yards and his 137 career catches rank fourth while his 23 touchdowns still rank second in the Razorback record book.

While his playing career remains chronicled in the UA record book, Lucas’ commitment to academics and community service is also remembered by those on the Fayetteville campus. Majoring in social work, Lucas was active in community service through Arkansas Athletes Outreach and was named to the SEC Good Works team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in social work in the fall of 1999 and walked in graduation ceremonies in the spring of 2000.

Lucas was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, but several knee injuries and required surgeries ended his professional football career prematurely. Just as in college, Lucas didn’t dwell on his misfortune but rallied around his opportunity to make a contribution.

Today, Lucas continues to make big plays in the communities of Arkansas. Lucas is the director of Life CHAMPS Youth Sports, an organization focused on developing "champions for life" by providing athletic instruction and competition, but also focusing on the importance of character and education. Lucas has also been active in honoring the memory one of his former teammates by helping kids through the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.

Lucas also serves as the facility coordinator for D1 Sports Training and Therapy in Little Rock. In a recent fundraiser for the D1 Foundation, dedicated to providing underprivileged children the opportunity for top-flight training, Lucas took on former Middleweight boxing champion Jermain Taylor in a contest to determine the best athlete in Little Rock. Although coming up short in the competition against Taylor, Lucas was once again at the forefront of helping those in need.

Lucas currently lives in Little Rock with his wife Devaê and their dog Taz. Almost a decade has passed since his memorable catch in that unforgettable game. While he hasn’t played a down of football in a number of years, Anthony Lucas’ unwavering commitment to helping others reach their potential in life continues to make Razorback fans proud.

The University of Arkansas’ Athletic Department recognizes its heritage and the countless contributions made by African-American student-athletes in all 19 of its varsity sports. The Razorbacks are proud to celebrate this great tradition and recognize some of the inspiring pioneers, great student-athletes and outstanding role models that have worn a Razorback uniform as a part of Black History Month.

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