McFadden, Jones To Enter NFL Draft
The 6-foot Jones was also a dangerous kickoff returner for the Razorbacks
Jan. 14, 2008
FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas (Ticker) -- Darren McFadden will not hang around for the Bobby Petrino era at Arkansas.
McFadden announced Monday that he will forgo his senior season at Arkansas to enter the 2008 NFL draft.
Fellow running back Felix Jones, another junior, also declared himself eligible for the draft during a joint news conference at Broyles Athletic Center.
"After consulting with my family, I feel that entering my name for the NFL draft is the right decision for me," McFadden said.
"I'm looking forward to the new challenge and am excited to get started." "In the past few weeks I have taken time to consider my football future, and what was the best opportunity for me and my family," Jones said. "My decision has not been an easy one as I have tried to balance my love for this university, this state and the Razorbacks against my desire to play in the NFL." A two-time All-American and the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy each of the last two years, McFadden rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns this past season.
Monday's announcement was not unexpected, as McFadden widely is considered the college game's top running back. A two-time Doak Walker Award winner, McFadden has been projected as a top-five pick in the upcoming draft, which will be held April 26-27.
"For the past three years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend the University of Arkansas, play football for the Razorbacks and be a part of something truly special," said McFadden, a Little Rock native. "When I was growing up, I dreamed of playing for the Hogs and the fans of the state, and I have had a chance to live that dream.
"Now the time has come to pursue another dream of mine playing in the National Football League." The electric McFadden was one of the few bright spots in a topsy-turvy campaign for Arkansas (8-5), which struggled in Southeastern Conference play before upsetting top-ranked Louisiana State in the regular-season finale.
Houston Nutt resigned as the Razorbacks' coach three days after the triple-overtime victory over LSU and was replaced by Petrino, who unceremoniously left the NFL's Atlanta Falcons on December 11 to take the Arkansas job the same day.
The school's all-time leading rusher, McFadden ran for 4,590 yards in 38 games at Arkansas. He also set the school's single-season rushing record this year and finished with the second-highest total in SEC history.
McFadden has had his share of bad publicity over the last month.
School officials were forced to review McFadden's eligibility to play vs. Missouri in the Cotton Bowl on December 31 after several media outlets reported that he violated NCAA compliance by accepting a car purchased by an agent.
McFadden made negative headlines again last Thursday, when he was handcuffed by police for "provoking aggressive behavior" during an altercation outside a Little Rock bar.
Prior to his off-field problems, McFadden authored the best offensive single season in school history.
Leading Nutt's "Wild Hog" offense in which he worked as a quarterback out of the shotgun, McFadden spearheaded the Razorbacks' 50-48 upset of then-No. 1 LSU on November 23.
McFadden rushed for 206 yards and three TDs while also passing for a score against the Tigers' vaunted defense. He also tied an SEC record with 321 yards in a 48-36 victory over South Carolina on November 3.
Jones also enjoyed an outstanding junior campaign for the Razorbacks, rushing for 1,162 yards and 11 TDs while averaging an NCAA-best 8.7 yards per carry.
The 6-foot Jones also was a dangerous kickoff returner, setting Arkansas career records with 1,749 yards on 62 returns for an average of 28.2 yards.
"Growing up, I dreamed of playing football on Sundays," Jones said. "After considering all of the factors, I am confident that my decision to forgo my senior season to enter the NFL Draft is the right decision.
"My three years at Arkansas have been some of the best years of my life."