State of the Hogs: Numbers
Strolling through the Arkansas sports information office as I waited for Arkansas linebacker and team captain Weston Dacus to finish a calculus test, I picked up the National Football Foundation's 2007 newsletter. The featured article by Dan Jenkins -- Who Owns the Numbers -- caught my eye.
I've seen the project undertaken with specific schools in mind, but never covering the complete history of college football. Can't imagine even trying that no matter your depth of knowledge of the sport.
Basically, what Jenkins -- old enough, talented enough and brave enough to take such a challenge -- did was pick the best to ever wear No. 1 and continue that all the way through No. 99.
Sometimes he listed as many as 17 players, as he did for No. 11. And, there were only four at No. 74 where current Arkansas assistant Tracy Rocker was deemed the best to ever wear that number.
There were 12 former Razorbacks mentioned, none of them listed first at their number. Clyde Scott (12), Lance Alworth (23), Wear Schoonover (29) and Bud Brooks (64) were all second at their numbers.
(Several others with Arkansas ties showed up. UA radio color analyst Keith Jackson, tight end, Oklahoma, ‘88, was the top No. 88. Former UA head coach Jack Mitchell, former UA head coach, was the top No. 26. Mitchell played QB at OU in ‘48.
Former UA assistants Raymond Berry (No. 87) and Johnny Majors ( No. 45) also were on the list.)
It was an interesting read. I scanned the complete list, all in small type, over six pages. I started out with a doubting thought because I knew Jenkins, a brash TCU fan, might overload the list with his favorites from his SWC days. No, there were only six TCU players listed. I'll accept that.
I read as he told of the early days of football when numbers were changed sometimes to deceive the opposition, and even when no one wore numbers at all. For instance, Dixie Howell at Alabama wore 1, 58, 60, 57, 52 and 54. Jenkins decided to put Howell at 54 since that is what he wore in the Rose Bowl. Do you think someone at ‘Bama would try any deception? Please don't tell the New England Patriot head coach something like that has been done before.
I read the list of No. 5s: Reggie Bush, Paul Hornung, LaDainian Tomlinson, Elmer Layden, Steve Davis, Donovan McNabb and Cy Leland with interest, all the while trying to see where Darren McFadden might fit. Surely, he's at least in the top three. He's not passed Bush in my eyes yet, but it could happen.
There was a chuckle when I got to No. 74 when Rocker was the first man listed. I knew he played defensive tackle at Auburn and set sack records in a career that earned him the Outland Trophy as the nation's best linemen. But I scratched my head when I saw that Jenkins listed him as an offensive tackle.
"Naw, never played any offense ever," Rocker said after practice Wednesday. "Ask that man (as he pointed to defensive coordinator Reggie Herring) and he'll tell you I don't even know any offense."
Herring was glad to take his mind off Kentucky's Andre Woodson to talk about the old days with Rocker at the front of a defense he helped coached. Herring was linebacker coach the last two years Rocker played at Auburn. He didn't mind dreaming of someone playing tackle in Rocker's style.
"First, that was a pretty salty defense back then," Herring said. "We had other good players, but Tracy set the tone. He brought an attitude to the field every day in practice and in games. He just wouldn't allow himself to be blocked. He was very, very, very consistent and played with tremendous tenacity. He epitomized the way we played on defense. He was tough and a leader by example."
Has Herring ever thought about pulling out some Rocker game film to show his defense?
"I don't know if the film from that day can be shown now," he said. "It was reel to reel stuff, taped together. It was some bad stuff. I'm afraid if we tried that, (the film) would fall apart."
Rocker didn't care that Jenkins listed him as an offensive player. He was just glad someone still thinks about him.
"Keep it going," he laughed. "Write all you want about something like that."
Perhaps both UA assistants were relieved the discussion didn't center around giving up 41 points against Alabama or how many the Hogs might give up to Woodson's juggernaut Kentucky offense.
There are no players on this Arkansas defense who look to be candidates to get in Dan Jenkins' list. That doesn't mean they aren't working hard.
Dacus, who thinks he aced his test, talked on his 22nd birthday about what it takes to get better on defense. He listed it as a day-to-day battle, making sure you get it done in practice. The Hogs' team captain said he is trying to follow the advice given the team by Michael Irvin last week in a team meeting. (Miami's Irvin is listed fourth by Jenkins at No. 47.)
"He told us you write your history day by day," Dacus said. "That's what I'm trying to do, every day in practice. All you can do, he told us, is give it up every play. You do that and you will be proud of your history."
It's doubtful Dacus will join the likes of Greg Pruitt, Mike Rozier or Steve Worster as one of the most famous No. 30s on the Jenkins list. But he's got a chance to make us remember him Saturday when he follows Woodson all day. We'll see what history he can write.
By the Numbers
(Arkansas players listed by Dan Jenkins as among the best to wear their number in college football.)
12 - Clyde (Smackover) Scott, halfback, ‘48 (2nd behind Roger Staubach, Navy).
23 - Lance Alworth, halfback, ‘61 (2nd behind Jim Swink, TCU).
29 - Wear Schoonover, end, ‘29 (2nd behind Bruce Smith, Great Lakes Naval Training Station); Tom Murphy, quarterback, ‘33 (5th).
33 - Jim Benton, end ‘37 (7th behind Tony Dorsett, Pitt).
35 - Kay Eakin, quarterback, ‘39 (7th behind Doc Blanchard, Army).
43 - Jack Robbins, quarterback, ‘37 (7th behind Joe Routt, Texas A&M).
46 - Ken Hatfield, halfback, ‘64 (5th behind Harry Newman, Michigan).
64 - Bud Brooks, offensive guard, ‘54, (2nd behind J.D. Roberts, Oklahoma).
70 - Loyd Phillips, defensive tackle, ‘66 (4th behind Harry "Blackjack" Smith, USC.
83 - Bobby Crockett, end, ‘63, (3rd behind Kellen Winslow, Missouri).
87 - Billy Ray Smith, defensive tackle (7th behind Ron Kramer, Michigan).
Editor's Note: This search was compiled by Dan Jenkins, college football historian for the National Football Foundation. Arkansas assistant coach Tracy Rocker (Auburn, ‘88) was listed as best to ever wear No. 74 in college football, among four players mentioned at that number. Keith Jackson, UA radio color analyst was listed as the best to ever wear No. 88. Jackson played tight end at Oklahoma.
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