McFadden In 2007: Let The Heisman Campaign Begin

By Tony McClean
Updated: December 12, 2006

NEW YORK — Even before Ohio State’s Troy Smith was officially named the winner of the 2006 Heisman Trophy, the buzz concerning the 2007 winner has already begun. In many ways because of the 2006 outcome, some may already want to stamp the name Darren McFadden on next year’s trophy right now.

In just two seasons, the University of Arkansas standout has carved out a resume that would make any player in the country pale in comparison. In that time, “D-Mac” has put himself in the company of other SEC running greats and Heisman Trophy recipients of the past.
In 2005, McFadden burst upon the national scene by rushing for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns on 176 attempts, earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
Despite an injury (dislocated toe) at the beginning of the 2006 campaign, the Little Rock native would eclipse his totals from the previous season in grand style.
McFadden rushed for a Razorback record 1,558 yards (surpassing the mark of 1,387 previously set by Madre Hill in 1995), ran for 14 touchdowns, and threw for three more touchdowns on just eight passing attempts.
D-Mac is the centerpiece of the “Wildcat” formation, an offensive formation whereby he lines up as quarterback. Since he played quarterback in high school, he is a threat to either throw, or more often, to run the ball.
In this formation, McFadden often hands off to fellow running back Felix Jones (who also ran for over 1,000 yards), thus making the formation a triple threat.
The “Wildcat” formation, as practiced at Arkansas, is also known nationally by some as the “501”, McFadden’s Little Rock area code and the subject of a tattoo on his arm.
McFadden was a unanimous choice as the SEC’s Offensive Player of The Year by the league coaches. He tallied the first offensive player of the year honor by a Razorback since Arkansas entered the conference in 1992.
He also became the first sophomore to win the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s top running back. In the final 2006 Heisman vote, McFadden placed second behind Smith and ahead of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn.
“To be here in New York to represent the University of Arkansas has been a great time for me”, McFadden said Saturday night. “To finish in between these two seniors is even more a thrill for me”.
To really get a grasp of how much McFadden has made an immediate impact on the college football world in just such a short time, take a gander at these facts:
— D-Mac is only one of two players in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards as a freshman and sophomore. Herschel Walker is the other.
— He’s only the seventh freshman in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000. That list includes Walker, Emmitt Smith, Reggie Cobb, Chuck Webb, Jamal Lewis, and Justin Vincent.
— His 2006 rushing total of 1,558 was more than 54 of the 119 Division I-A teams including SEC foes Alabama and Tennessee, Notre Dame, Boston College, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.), and Syracuse.
McFadden did all this while leading the Hogs to the SEC’s Western Division crown (7-1) and 10 straight victories. Although they fell to Florida 38-28 in the SEC title game, the rest of the nation will get one more major glimpse at D-Mac.
The Hogs will meet No. 6 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day at the Citris Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
While it will bring an end to one season, it will also give McFadden a chance to give Heisman voters one lasting look and no doubt will also give a taste of what should come in 2007.