Nutt, McFadden Recognized As SEC's Best

FAYETTEVILLE — At the start of the season, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt was considered to be on the hot seat and running back Darren McFadden was recovering from offseason toe surgery.

Three months later, Nutt was recognized again as the Southeastern Conference's top coach and there wasn't much debate over who was the league's best offensive player.

Nutt was named the SEC's coach of year and McFadden was the overwhelming choice as the conference's offensive player of the year when The Associated Press released its All-SEC football team Monday.

"You've got a lot of great players in the SEC, so it's just a real great honor for me," McFadden said.

There was some concern that McFadden might not be ready for the start of the season — or even if he'd be able to play at all — after the sophomore suffered a serious toe injury in a fight outside a Little Rock nightclub on July 29.

But McFadden played in a season-opening loss to No. 8 Southern California, and he has emerged as a likely Heisman Trophy finalist after finishing as the SEC's leading rusher with 1,558 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's also thrown for three touchdowns, caught a pass for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score.

As a result, McFadden was named a unanimous selection at running back for the All-SEC first team. He was joined on the first-team offense by two of his offensive linemen, center Jonathan Luigs and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh.

"Coming into the year, we knew that we had a good offensive line upfront, and we knew if everybody stayed healthy, we could do a lot of things running the ball," McFadden said.

Nutt, meanwhile, was voted AP's All-SEC coach of the year for a second time after leading the No. 12 Razorbacks (10-3, 7-2 SEC) to the SEC Championship Game after going 4-7 last season.

Nutt also was recognized in 2001 when he helped Arkansas rebound from a 1-3 start to finish the season 7-5. But after back-to-back losing seasons, Nutt's job was considered to be in jeopardy entering this season.

"I don't look at it as sweet revenge. I don't look at it as, ‘In your face.'" Nutt said of being named AP's SEC coach of the year. "I don't do that. I don't look at it like that."

A total of nine Arkansas players made either the All-SEC's first or second team. But surprisingly, sophomore Felix Jones, who like McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season, was named a second-team running back and all-purpose back instead of joining his teammate on the first team.

"I think Felix Jones is also be a first-teamer," Nutt said. "I feel like he got (robbed) just because it's hard to get two players from the same school (on the first team). But they were the best tandem in the country."

The AP's All-SEC team is voted on by media members.

McFadden Says He'll Be Ready For Bowl Game

Arkansas running back Darren McFadden said Monday that he'll be ready to face No. 6 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 despite nursing a strained Achilles tendon.

McFadden suffered the injury after catching a pass in the first half of Saturday's 38-28 loss to No. 2 Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta.

"I think I'll be all the way ready for (the bowl game)," McFadden said Monday afternoon.

The sophomore admitted that the leg injury bothered him Saturday night, causing him to rush for only 73 yards on 21 carries against the Gators.

"I think it affected me a whole lot because trying push off and things like that, it was hurting pretty bad," McFadden said.

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