FAYETTEVILLE –Six Arkansas football players were named to the three Phil Steele’s 2008 All-Southeastern Conference Teams it was announced on Thursday. Senior center Jonathan Luigs and sophomore tight end D.J. Williams highlight the six Razorbacks with first-team offensive nods by the college football publication.
Along with Luigs and Williams, junior Michael Smith was named to the second-team offense at running back; senior punter Jeremy Davis was placed on the second team defense and the tandem of junior defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard and redshirt freshman linebacker Jerry Franklin earned spots on the third-team defense.
Luigs was touted by Phil Steele’s preseason magazine as a first-team all-SEC and All-America team member and the nation’s no.1 center. His first-team all-SEC award is his second in as many years having taken the honor in 2007 prior to earning unanimous All-America honors and the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center.
Williams award comes as no shock following the sophomore’s breakout season in 2008. Entering the year with just five catches as a freshman, Williams was a John Mackey Award semifinalist which goes to the nation’s best tight end. He hauled in a near school record 61 receptions for 723 yards to lead the Razorbacks and was consistently among the nation’s top receivers in both receptions and yards per game.
Rounding out the offense, Michael Smith picks up his first Phil Steele honor. The Tallahassee, Fla., native became the ninth Razorback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and led the SEC in rushing most of the year. He would eventually finish second to Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno for tops in the league.
On special teams, Davis capped his career with a tremendous season for the Hogs. He finished 17th in the nation in punting and was a Draddy Award semifinalist. Davis kicked 13 punts over 50 yards during the season and averaged more than 42 yards per punt for the first time in his career.
The rock of the defensive line, Sheppard led the Arkansas defense in four statistical categories this fall including sacks (6.5), tackles for a loss (14.5), quarterback hurries (12) and forced fumbles (2). He finished the 2008 season with a career high 68 tackles, second on the Arkansas roster.
Franklin led Arkansas in tackles this season with 87 over the Razorbacks’ 12-game schedule as well as solo tackles (54), assisted tackles (33), interceptions (2) and fumble recoveries (2). Midway through the season Franklin’s interception of Florida’s Tim Tebow ended the third longest streak in SEC history of consecutive passes without an interception.
Phil Steele’s All-America team along with other post-season football awards are scheduled to be released next week. For more information regarding Razorback football or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.