This is the latest in a series of features on the 2010 University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor inductees.
FAYETTEVILLE — Don "Ike" Forte came to Arkansas from Tyler Junior College, heralded by the Arkansas Traveler in April of 1974 as "God’s gift to the ’74 Razorbacks." The junior college All-American didn’t disappoint. Forte was Arkansas’ leading rusher in his junior and senior years, notching All-Southwest Conference honors in back-to-back seasons.
As a selfless team player, Forte made the move from halfback to fullback in the midst of his first standout season for UA. Forte explained the switch to The Gazette after Arkansas’ season-ending victory over Texas Tech (Nov. 23, 1974), 21-13.
"…It’s an easier job than halfback," Forte said to The Gazette. "In our offense, the fullback just does two things often. You hit at either left or right tackle."
And hit Forte did. The UA fullback rumbled for 215 yards on 32 carries in the affair, earning a game ball from head coach Frank Broyles. Arkansas’ campaign ended with a 6-4-1 record. Forte had carried the ball for 974 yards and nine touchdowns.
Season two for Forte left an even larger impact, including a bowl victory.
In 1975, Forte was a team co-captain and was pivotal in leading Arkansas to the SWC title. UA went 10-2 on the season, thanks in part to Forte’s aggressive running. He bested his previous season mark by gaining 983 yards on the ground and found the end zone 10 times.
Forte’s best may have been last for the 1975 Arkansas campaign. He rushed for 119 yards and two scores in the Razorback’s upset victory over Georgia, 31-10, in the 1976 Cotton Bowl. Forte was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player for his efforts. The win marked UA’s second Cotton Bowl trophy in school history.
On the field, Forte was easily likable due to his rushing results. It was written by Arkansas’ sports information office late in the 1975 season that Forte was a thrill off the field, as well.
"Off the field," Forte said, "I try to conduct my business like a gentleman. I try to be nice to people no matter what they say about me. I am looking to the future, and I think this is the easiest way to take care of my best interests."
After many years, Forte’s name remains dotted throughout the Razorback record books. His 1,957 career rushing yards ranked third in school history at the time and now rest at 17th. Forte went on to play professionally for the New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and New York Giants.
ARKANSAS ALL-TIME RECORDSRUSHING YARDS GAINED IN A GAME321 Darren McFadden vs. South Carolina (34 rushes, 1 TD), 2007271 Dickey Morton vs. Baylor (28 rushes, 2 TD), 1973241 Fred Talley vs. Auburn (21 rushes, 1 TD), 2002236 Leon Campbell vs. N. Texas (15 rushes, 2 TD), 1949219 Darren McFadden vs. South Carolina (25 rushes, 2 TD), 2006219 James Rouse vs. New Mexico (19 rushes, 4 TD), 1987215 Ike Forte vs. Texas Tech (32 rushes, 2 TD), 1974
YARDS PER RUSHCAREER: (min. 250 rushes)7.66 Felix Jones (386 rushes, 2956 yards), 2005-076.64 Matt Jones (382 rushes, 2535 yards), 2001-045.85 Darren McFadden (785 rushes, 4590 yards), ’05-075.85 Michael Smith (359 rushes, 2103 yards), 2006-20095.62 Ben Cowins (635 rushes, 3570 yards), 1975-785.57 Dickey Morton (595 rushes, 3317 yards), 1971-735.57 Jerry Eckwood (340 rushes, 1895 yards), 1974-76, 785.42 Ike Forte (361 rushes, 1957 yards), 1974-755.34 Fred Talley (498 rushes, 2661 yards), 1999-025.27 Barry Foster (375 rushes, 1977 yards), 1987-895.21 Clyde Scott (281 rushes, 1463 yards), 1946-485.16 James Rouse (559 rushes, 2887 yards), 1985-895.12 Cedric Cobbs (589 rushes, 3018 yards), 1999-2003
TOUCHDOWNS IN A CAREER22 Darren McFadden, 2005-0716 Ben Cowins, 1975-7815 Dickey Morton, 1971-7313 Felix Jones, 2005-0711 Cedric Cobbs, 1999-200311 Fred Talley, 1999-20029 Bill Burnett, 1968-709 Oscar Malone, 1992-94, 19968 Matt Jones, 2001-048 Ike Forte, 1974-758 James Rouse, 1985, 87-898 Madre Hill, 1994-98
UA Sports Hall of Honor members are selected by a vote of former letterwinners in conjunction with the A Club. The official induction is Friday, Sept. 3, at the Springdale Convention Center. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased from the Razorback Foundation. For more information, call the Razorback Foundation at 479-443-9000.