FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team had nine different student-athletes named to Phil Steele’s All-SEC or All-American teams, which were released Tuesday.
Joe Adams and Jarius Wright were named All-Americans, with Adams taking the second-team punt returner spot and Wright the fourth-team wide receiver position. Wright also was named first-team All-SEC wide receiver, while Adams was second-team All-SEC punt returner and third-team All-SEC wide receiver.
Defensive end Jake Bequette also earned first-team All-SEC accolades, while quarterback Tyler Wilson, offensive guard Alvin Bailey and linebackers Alonzo Highsmith and Jerry Franklin were named second-team All-SEC performers. Tramain Thomas was one of the third-team All-SEC safeties, and Dennis Johnson was the third-team All-SEC kick returner.
One of the most versatile and dynamic players in college football, Adams leads the country with three punt return touchdowns and an average of 16.19 yards per punt return. The Little Rock, Ark., native is the only player in the NCAA with rushing, receiving and multiple punt return touchdowns in 2011. His career total of four punt return touchdowns is tied for the lead among all active players nationally and tied for fourth all-time in the SEC. Adams ranks tied for second on the SEC’s single-season punt return touchdown list, one behind the conference’s single-season record. Adams has also been named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and slated as an All-American by the Football Writers Association, Walter Camp and Pro Football Weekly.
Wright leads the SEC with 93.5 receiving yards per game, 5.7 receptions per game and 11 receiving touchdowns. He ranks 12th nationally in receiving touchdowns. The Warren, Ark., native has set the UA single-season record with 63 receptions and 1,029 receiving yards during the 2011 season and has tied the Arkansas single-season record with 11 receiving touchdowns. Wright is also Arkansas’ all-time career receptions leader with 165 catches in his collegiate career. Wright set a new Arkansas single-game record with 281 receiving yards in Arkansas’ win against Texas A&M. He also tied the school single-game record with 13 receptions in the win over the Aggies.
Bequette leads the Razorback defense with 8.0 sacks and ranks second in the SEC and seventh nationally with 0.89 sacks per game (8.0 in nine games this season). The Little Rock, Ark., native is second in the SEC and seventh in the country with 0.44 forced fumbles per game. A finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Bequette also added four quarterback hurries, which is tied for third on the team. For his career, Bequette leads all active SEC players and ranks third on Arkansas’ all-time career sacks list with 21.5 sacks.
Wilson became the first Arkansas quarterback to be named first-team All-SEC and the Razorbacks’ first first-team all-conference quarterback since Quinn Grovey earned first-team All-Southwest Conference honors in 1988 when he appeared on the AP and Coach’s first teams. The Greenwood, Ark., native is the second player in UA history to record 3,000 passing yards in a season. Wilson leads the SEC and ranks 14th nationally with an average of 285.2 passing yards per game. Wilson has a passing efficiency rating of 148.66, which is second in the league and 21st in the country. Wilson ranks second on Arkansas’ single-season completions list with 257 completions, third on the UA single-season passing yards list with 3,422 yards and fourth on Arkansas’ single-season passing touchdowns list with 22.
Bailey has started all 12 games this season and all 25 in his career and was named an honorable-mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native is a member of an offensive line that has blocked for an offense that has produced a 3,000-yard passer for the third straight season. Arkansas leads the SEC and ranks 13th in the country in passing offense, averaging 307.8 yards per game, and also leads the SEC and ranks 27th nationally with an average of 445.8 yards of total offense per game. The UA offense ranks second in school history in completions (279) and passing first downs (161), third in passing yards (3,693) and fourth in scoring (449) and touchdowns scored (56-tie).
Highsmith leads the team and ranks 12th in the SEC with 10.5 tackles for loss and is third on the team with 73 tackles. The Missouri City, Texas, native has recorded at least 0.5 tackles for loss in eight games and 2.0 tackles for loss in three games this season. He scored his first touchdown as a Razorback at No. 1 LSU when he returned a fumble 47 yards for the score. Highsmith also has 3.5 sacks, one interception, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble in 2011.
Franklin leads the Razorback defense and is sixth in the SEC with 93 tackles in 2011. The Marion, Ark., native has recorded 10.0 tackles for loss, which is second on the team and tied for 14th in the conference. He’s tied for the team lead with five quarterback hurries. Franklin, who has started 49 games in his career and 30 straight, ranks third on UA’s all-time career tackles list with 374 stops.
Thomas has five interceptions during the 2011 season, which is tied for third in the SEC and 10th nationally. Thomas had a pair of interceptions in the Razorbacks’ 38-14 win against Auburn on Oct. 8. Thomas has also made 87 tackles on the season, which is second on the team. In his career, the senior from Winnie, Texas, has intercepted 12 passes, which is tied for third on UA’s all-time career interceptions list.
Johnson ranks fourth in the SEC and 32nd in the NCAA with an average of 25.6 yards per kickoff return, including a 98-yard kickoff return for touchdown in Arkansas’ win against South Carolina. The junior from Texarkana, Ark., is averaging 135.1 all-purpose yards per game, which is second in the SEC and 33rd in the country. He is seventh in the SEC with an average of 63.7 rushing yards per game and ranks first among the SEC’s top-10 rushers and fifth in the conference with a 6.3 yards-per-carry average.
Arkansas wraps up the 2011 season Jan. 6 in the 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic when the Razorbacks, who finished sixth in the BCS standings, take on Kansas State, which was eighth in the final BCS standings, inside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will air on Fox beginning at 7 p.m.