The Best of the Best

FAYETTEVILLE -- Pulaski Oak Grove running back Darren McFadden received three first-place votes to remain No.1 in the Arkansas Top 30 prospects list to close this year's list.

Little Rock Central free safety Kevin Thornton No. 2 received one first-place vote.

McFadden, who's verbally committed to Arkansas, is one of the top running backs in the country.

Fort Smith Southside wide receiver Slick Shelley remains in the No. 3 spot while Arkansas commitments Cord Gray (Wynne) and Brandon Barnett (Texarkana) finish at No. 4 and No.5, respectively.

Rounding out the top 10 are Bearden linebacker Ben Owens Jr. (No.6), Little Rock Mills safety Elston Forte (No.7), Arkansas commitment Russellville's Joey Crossland (No.8), Little Rock Central defensive end Antwain Robinson (No.9) and Camden quarterback Rod Coleman (No.10).

Pulaski Oak Grove running back Darren McFadden always dreamed of being an All-American high school football player and a Arkansas Razorback one day.

Both of those dreams are nearing reality for the Prep All-American back.

McFadden (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) has plans to cast his signature with Arkansas on national signing day on Feb.2.

He also was recently invited to participate in the All-American game in Shreveport, La., but declined.

"It's an honor, but if I'm going to play in any All-star game it's going to be the one in Arkansas," McFadden said.

McFadden runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds and bench presses 310 pounds.

"I'm just waiting for signing day to come," McFadden said.

"It's a dream come true for me to play for my home-state, it's all I ever wanted."

"Both coach Nutts were at my house Wednesday night for an in-home visit," McFadden said.

"It went pretty good, we just talked about the program and next year. I'm coming up there with intentions to contribute next fall as a running back."

McFadden finished the season with 1,984 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns. On defense from his safety position, he recorded 4 interceptions.

His only official visit is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 21 to Arkansas.

"I basically knew where I wanted to go, so I just told all the other schools," McFadden said.

"The only other school that I even considered was Alabama. I canceled my visit there and just ended my recruitment."

Wynne defensive tackle Cord Gray is firm on his verbal pledge to Arkansas, but has scheduled official visits to Memphis and Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

"I'm definitely signing with Arkansas, just being courteous," Gray said.

"I'll be at Memphis on Jan.14 and UAPB on Jan.17 for one day. I'm just going to check out the campus and schools."

Gray (6-2, 285, 5.0) is scheduled to visit Arkansas the weekend of Jan.28.

"I'm saving the best for last," Gray said.

Gray recorded 76 tackles and 6 sacks for the season.

He bench presses 310 and squats 520.

Gray was also invited to play in the All-American game in Shreveport as McFadden and also opted out.

"My high school coach ( Don Campbell) advised me not to play, so I'm probably going to play in the Arkansas All-Star game if I decide to play in one," Gray said.

Gray is aware of former Wynne running back and current Memphis All-American running back DeAngelo Williams' decision to leave the state.

"He felt at the time it was in his best interest to attend Memphis," Gray said.

"It's my choice to stay at home and represent Arkansas, so that's not going to have any type of effect on me."

Gray committed to Arkansas a few days after returning home from the Arkansas football camp this summer.

"I still get calls from other coaches, but I tell all of them I'm signing with Arkansas," Gray said.

"Arkansas has a lot of young players, in the next couple of years we should be real good."


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