Darren McFadden: Saying Goodbye to the Greatest Razorback of All Time

Dec. 11, 2017

by Chase Gage


FAYETTEVILLE, ARK — The greatest Razorback to ever play for the University of Arkansas recently retired from the NFL. On and off the field, the legend of Darren McFadden will never die.

McFadden retired from the Dallas Cowboys on November 28, 2017, after 10 seasons in the NFL. He played for the Raiders for seven seasons before spending three years in Dallas to finish out his career.

With the news of his retirement and the Heisman Trophy Presentation being held recently (the 10-year anniversary of McFadden’s second stint as runner-up), no time seems better to look back at the illustrious career of the greatest player to ever don the Razorback uniform.

High School

McFadden attended Oak Grove High School in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The young running back had one of the most successful high school careers in the history of the state, finishing with just under 4000 rushing yards to go along with 46 touchdowns in just a two-year span.

While in school, McFadden received several awards and honors, such as:

  • 2004 Landers Award Winner
    • Awarded annually to the top football player in the state of Arkansas
  • 2004 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette High School Player of the Year
  • Parade Magazine High School All-American
  • Received scholarship offers from:
    • Arkansas (accepted)
    • Auburn
    • Tennessee
    • Alabama


High School Rushing Stats

Year ATT Yards TD
2003 184 1965 27
2004 204 2027 19
TOTAL 388 3992 46


McFadden accepted a scholarship offer to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He made his debut as a true freshman in 2005.

As a freshman, McFadden racked up over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and named First Team All-SEC. He also garnered national attention, being named as a Freshman All-American as well as Newcomer of the Year in the SEC by ESPN.

As a sophomore, McFadden took the world of college football by storm.

Not only did he break the school record for rushing yards in a season, he posted what was then the fifth-most yards by any back in a season in SEC history. His best performance of the year was a 219-yard outing against South Carolina. Arkansas finished the regular season as SEC West Division Champions with a 10-2 record.

McFadden was recognized at the end of the season for all of his accomplishments. He was named a Heisman Finalist and finished second to Troy Smith of Ohio State. Up to that point, no Sophomore had ever won the Heisman Trophy. He also became the first sophomore to ever win the Doak Walker Award, annually presented to the top running back in college football.

Other awards and honors included:

  • SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2006)
  • Consensus First Team All-America
  • First Team All-SEC

As a junior, McFadden entered the season as the Heisman frontrunner and the top potential draft prospect. That’s a high bar to set, but he did not disappoint.

McFadden started the year off with five-consecutive 120+ yard games. He posted 195 against Alabama, 151 against Troy and 173 against Kentucky.

On November 3, 2007, he had what was at the time his greatest performance. McFadden tied the SEC record for most rushing yards in a game after a 34-attempt, 321-yard effort in a win against South Carolina. Initially, it was reported that he broke the record until two of his yards were later awarded to Peyton Hillis.

Twenty days later, his legend was cemented forever in what may be the greatest game in modern Razorback history. Let me set the stage.

The Razorbacks were visiting the top-ranked LSU Tigers in the final game of the season. The Hogs came into the contest at 7-4 while LSU sat at 10-1. The Tigers were already SEC West Champs and were eyeing the National Championship.

McFadden posted 32 attempts for 206 yards and three touchdowns on the night. He also threw six passes, completing three for 34 yards and another touchdown. The Razorbacks pulled out a thriller to win the Golden Boot in triple overtime, 50-48. LSU Quarterback Matt Flynn threw an interception to Matterral Richardson in the back of the end zone on the last play of the game on a two-point conversion try.


McFadden again finished as a Heisman finalist, this time falling short to Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow. McFadden was only the second player in history (now the third) to finish second in Heisman voting twice (Andrew Luck, Stanford, in 2010 and 2011, and Charlie Justice, North Carolina, in 1948 and 1949).

Though he did not win the Heisman his junior year, it did not pass without significant recognition, including:

  • 2007 Doak Walker Award
    • Second player to ever win the award twice (Ricky Williams)
  • 2007 Walter Camp Award
    • Awarded annually to the NCAA Player of the Year, as decided by FCS head coaches
  • Jim Brown Award
  • SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2007)
  • Consensus First Team All-America
  • First Team All-SEC

McFadden decided to forgo his senior season at Arkansas and enter the 2008 NFL Draft. He finished his collegiate career with the second-most rushing yards in SEC history (Herschel Walker). McFadden is now third all-time, as Georgia senior Nick Chubb passed him in the SEC Championship game in 2017.

McFadden was also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in August of 2007 and was also the cover athlete for the XBOX 360 version of the video game ‘NCAA Football 2009’.

Collegiate Stats


Year Att Yards AVG TD
2005 176 1113 6.3 11
2006 284 1647 5.8 14
2007 325 1830 5.6 16
TOTAL 785 4590 5.8 41


Year Rec Yards TD
2005 14 52 0
2006 11 149 1
2007 21 164 1
TOTAL 46 365 2


Year Comp/Att PCT Yards AVG TD
2005 1-2 50.0 13 6.5 0
2006 7-9 77.8 69 7.7 3
2007 6-11 54.5 123 11.2 4
TOTAL 14-22 63.6 205 9.3 7



McFadden was selected with the fourth-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, tied for the highest draft pick out of the University of Arkansas in the Super Bowl era with Dan Hampton in 1979.NFL: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders

Injuries seemed to plague McFadden’s professional career, as he only played in all 16 games twice. In three of his ten seasons, he played seven or fewer games.

Despite the injuries, he was still able to post multiple 1000-yard rushing seasons. 2010 marked the peak of his career, as he carried the ball 223 times over 13 games for a total of 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 47 receptions for 507 yards and three touchdowns.

In 2015, McFadden signed with the Dallas Cowboys. His career was instantly revitalized, as he rushed for 1,089 yards and three touchdowns and gained an additional 328 yards through the air.mcfadden dallas

In 2016, the Cowboys drafted Ohio State Running Back Ezekiel Elliot with the fourth-overall pick. He took over the starting job, essentially ending McFadden’s career as a starting running back.

In 2017 after seeing only one carry, he annouced his retirement from the NFL.


Raiders (7 Seasons)
83 1038 4247 4.1 25
Cowboys (3 Seasons)
20 264 1174 4.4 3
Career (10 Seasons)
103 1302 5421 4.2 28


Raiders (7 Seasons)
Targets REC Yards AVG TD
303 211 1769 8.4 5
Cowboys (3 Seasons)
Targets REC Yards AVG TD
58 43 345 8.0 0
Career (10 Seasons)
Targets REC Yards AVG TD
361 254 2114 8.3 5

The Legend

McFadden lives on as a legend in the history of the University of Arkansas. He may very well go down as the greatest Razorback of all time. Ten years ago, he cemented himself as one of the all-time greats in college football and may still be the greatest collegiate player to never take home the Heisman Trophy.mcfaddennnnn

Though his playing career is officially over, his career impact will never be forgotten.

I believe I speak on behalf of all Razorback fans when I say congratulations on a phenomenal career, and thank you for all the wonderful memories. You will always be a hero of mine, Darren.

Thank you, and Go Hogs.

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