FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden and center Jonathan Luigs have been named pre-season first-team All-Americans by the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook. In addition, McFadden was named the national offensive player of the year by the pre-season publication.
McFadden was a consensus first-team All-America selection last season after rushing for 1,647 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Little Rock native was a Heisman Trophy finalist and finished second to Ohio State’s Troy Smith in the balloting. McFadden became the first sophomore to win the Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the nation’s best running back. He has been named to every 2007 pre-season All-America team released thus far including garnering honors from Playboy and Phipps Football Magazine. Blue Ribbon also selected McFadden as its pre-season SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
Luigs earned first-team pre-season All-America honors after a stellar sophomore campaign. He was one of six Rimington Trophy finalists and earned a spot on The Associated Press’ third-team All-America squad. Luigs helped Arkansas lead the SEC and rank fourth in the nation with 228.5 rushing yards per game. He was part of an offensive front that cleared the way for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in McFadden (1,647) and Felix Jones (1,168). It marked only the third time in SEC history and the 38th time in NCAA history that teammates each rushed for 1,000 yards or more in the same season.
McFadden and Luigs were joined by fellow Razorbacks Marcus Monk and Jones on the first-team pre-season All-SEC squad selected by Blue Ribbon. Monk was a first-team all-conference selection at wide receiver after hauling in 50 receptions for 962 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2006. He has led Arkansas in either receptions or receiving yards in all three of his years in a Razorback uniform.
Jones made the all-conference squad as a kick return specialist. Jones was a first-team All-American kick returner in 2005 and was a first-team All-SEC selection at running back in 2006. He was one of two (McFadden) SEC running backs to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark (1,168) last season. Jones averaged 24.1 yards per kick return in 2006 and tied a school record by returning his second career kickoff for 100 yards and a touchdown against Ole Miss.
Blue Ribbon forecasted Arkansas to finish second in the SEC West behind LSU. Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State were predicted to finish third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. The publication tabbed Florida as the team to beat in the SEC East. Tennessee and Georgia were followed by South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the divisional predictions.