Its fourth and goal, the ball is on the one-yard line just a few feet from a necessary touchdown to win the game. Everyone watching knows the next play is going to be a quarterback sneak. The key ingredient to the quarterback sneak is the center of the offensive line that has to create enough of a push for the quarterback to gain those three feet into the end zone and pick up six points and the win. For the Razorbacks, the center is Jonathan Luigs, a senior from Little Rock, Ark., who has been the physical and emotional leader of the Arkansas Razorback offensive line for four years.
Fireside chatter across the United States compares the greats in any given sport and for football the running back is a key figure. Was Walter Payton better than Emmitt Smith? What about Jim Brown or Eric Dickerson, where do they fit in? Often the offensive lines are overlooked when comparing those great runners. If asked, each of the great running backs in college or professional football would give credit to their offensive line to allow them to be so successful.
The Razorbacks were blessed in the past few years with one of the greatest tandem of All-American running backs ever to be assembled, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones; at the same time this combination was blessed to have one of the nation’s top offensive lines, led by last year’s All-American and Rimington Trophy award winner as the nation’s best center.
No flash in the pan as a junior, Luigs has been a focal point of Arkansas’ offensive front since his freshman year. He has started each of the 48 games Arkansas has played since he took the field as a redshirt freshman in 2005 and while some of those starts early on came at guard, Luigs has been the only Razorback center since the start of the 2006 season. That year he put himself among the nation’s elite players as he earned third-team All-America honors from The Associated Press, first-team All-SEC accolades and was a finalist for the Rimington Award.
While Luigs’ name has certainly found its way to many through his playing career, not all of his success has come on the field. He recently graduated from Arkansas’ Walton School of Business with a degree in transportation and logistics, which he plans on using after he sees what the National Football League has to offer.
“I intend to see what the NFL would offer me, but if there isn’t anything, then I know that there is a high demand for my major,” Luigs said.
In the rare moments Luigs is not in class or on the gridiron, he enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the great outdoors.
“I really enjoy being outside, whether it’s playing football in the fall or playing golf in the spring,” Luigs said. “I also enjoy hunting with my family. It doesn’t matter what season it is, as long as I get to go outside and hunt. When I am not busy with football season, I also like to spend a lot of time with my family and friends in Little Rock and Fayetteville.”
Luigs’ Arkansas career may come to an end once the 2008 season concludes, but the reflective center and Razorback fan knows one of the things he will miss most about his days as a Razorback is the unique pageantry that is Arkansas Razorback football.
“The greatest thing about playing football for Arkansas is the fans and the atmosphere of Razorback Stadium,” Luigs said. “The Razorbacks are the professional team of the state. There is just a lot of focus on the Hogs and growing up in Little Rock just inspired me to play for the Razorbacks. That is what I will miss the most about playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks.”
Luigs will hang up his cardinal and white No. 63 jersey at the end of the season, but his legacy as a Razorback is in the way he carried himself and inspired others on what a collegiate student-athlete should be. For the last five years, Luigs has lived the dream many children envision in their own backyard: fourth and goal at the one-yard line with one play to punch it in.