Darren McFadden (born August 27, 1987 in North Little Rock, Arkansas) is the 2006 All-American starting tailback for the University of Arkansas and the 2006 Doak Walker Award winner as the nation’s top running back, the first sophomore to ever win the award. He also finished runner-up in voting for the 2006 Heisman Trophy. He has two years of NCAA eligibility remaining.
McFadden attended Oak Grove High School in North Little Rock, where he was a Parade Magazine All-American in 2004, and was also named the Arkansas High School player of the year by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. During his time at Oak Grove, McFadden would occasionally line up at the quarterback position, a skill which he is using now at Arkansas in the “Wildhog” formation.
Throughout his 2 college years, McFadden has already eclipsed many records in University of Arkansas Razorback football, the largest perhaps being the most yards in a single season, accomplished in his sophomore year. In 2006 he won the Doak Walker Award, he also came in second for the Heisman award of 2006. As of November 4, 2007 he has become the all-time leading rusher in school history, with 4,076 yards in 34 career games. Arkansas still has 3 games left on the 2007 schedule, not including a possible bowl invitation. McFadden also owns the school record for most career games with at least 100 yards rushing, with 19.
In 2005, his true freshman season, McFadden rushed for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns on 176 attempts, earning Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honors. McFadden was an integral part of an Arkansas offense, that, although going 4-7, lost to top ranked teams such as Georgia and LSU only in the closing seconds of those games. Although being a backup for the first 2 games of the season, and even gathering interest from defensive coordinator Reggie Herring to become a safety, a position he also played in high school, McFadden stuck with his position at running back.
McFadden slowly transformed into the breakout star he would soon become, rushing for long touchdowns in several games. McFadden ended the season with the most yards a freshman running back had ever gained in an Arkansas uniform, and became one of only two Southeastern Conference players to rush over 1,000 yards as a freshman, the other being former Heisman Trophy winner University of Georgia running back Herschel Walker. McFadden continued through spring practice early the next year as the number one running back on the Razorback depth chart, a spot doubtful he will relinquish while still on the campus.
In 2006, despite a slow start due to a dislocated toe from an off the field incident at a night club in Little Rock, McFadden rushed for a school-record 1,647 yards, scored 14 touchdowns, and threw for 3 more touchdowns on just 9 passing attempts, becoming a first-team All-American. Thanks to his efforts, Arkansas streaked to 10 straight wins, the SEC Western Division Championship, but lost to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl on January 1, 2007.
On December 6, 2006, McFadden was named 1 of 3 finalists for the Heisman Trophy, along with Troy Smith (Ohio State University) and Brady Quinn (University of Notre Dame). The next day, McFadden 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 several points in front of Quinn. He is the leading contender for the 2007 race.
Standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 215 pounds, and possessing 4.3 second speed in the 40-yard dash, McFadden recently surpassed Madre Hill as the record holder for most rushing yards in a season at the University of Arkansas. He is also the centerpiece of the “Wildhog” formation, an offensive formation wherein he usually lines up as quarterback. Since McFadden often played quarterback in high school, he is a threat to either throw (7 of 9 on passing and 3 touchdowns), or more often, to run the ball. In this formation he also often hands off to another player, usually fellow running back Felix Jones, 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 hometown telephone area code and the subject of a tattoo on his arm. The formation has since been officially renamed as the “WildHog” for the 2007 season.
On November 3rd, 2007, McFadden set a Southeastern Conference record with 323 yards rushing against the University of South Carolina.
- Darren has many nicknames ranging from “Run DMC”, to “501″, to “D-Mac”,to “D-Dawg”, to “Humanity Advanced” and others.
- After the 2007 NFL Draft, Sports Illustrated‘s website ran a Photo Gallery chronicling the best possible candidates in the Draft in 2008. McFadden was tipped as the number 1 pick if he declares for the draft.
- McFadden was recently pictured on the covers of regional editions of Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine.