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McFadden, Jones Must Mull Draft Decision
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Jan 1, 2008
DALLAS — Arkansas running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones continued to toe the company line on Tuesday, repeating their stance that they must talk to their families before making a decision about the NFL Draft.
didn’t harness his feelings when asked if he blocked for the talented backs for the final time during Arkansas’ 38-7 loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.
“Yeah,” Luigs said. “I think they’ve got too much money on the line to come back (next season).”
If so, the remarkable tandem didn’t get to go out with a bang in their final collegiate game. McFadden rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. Jones added 45. The performances didn’t come close to matching Missouri tailback Tony Temple, who sprinted for bowl records of 281 yards and four touchdowns.
In fact, Arkansas’ talented tandem spent the final 10 minutes on the sideline, hugging teammates and shaking hands instead of chewing up yards and leading the Razorbacks to a win.
“They did a great job,” McFadden said of Missouri. “They came out there working hard. ... We didn’t get our 1-2 going.”
McFadden, who has been in the news leading up to the Cotton Bowl because of a television station report that he received a car from an agent, is widely considered a top five pick in the draft after finishing as the Heisman Trophy runner-up the past two seasons. The Little Rock native was cleared of any wrongdoing and was permitted to play by the university the day before the game, but couldn’t duck a Missouri defense keyed on stopping him Tuesday.
McFadden did crack the 100-yard mark for the 10th time this season and 22nd of his career. He also moved into second on the Southeastern Conference career rushing list, (4,190) passing former LSU back Kevin Faulk. But the biggest gain he could muster against the Tigers was a 19-yarder.
Jones didn’t have much success either. His biggest play came on a short pass from quarterback Casey Dick. Jones winded 41 yards downfield through Missouri’s defense, but had the ball stripped out of his hands by safety William Moore.
But offensive coordinator David Lee said the poor offensive performance had nothing to do with either back.
“They ran well,” Lee said. “What was there, they took. I didn’t see either one of them miss a cut.”
And Luigs said the Cotton Bowl was no indication of their importance to the Razorbacks the past three seasons.
“Not that many teams get to have that many weapons in the backfield,” Luigs said. “They spoiled us.”
McFadden, who received an ovation from Missouri fans as he walked out of the Cotton Bowl, didn’t spend much time talking about his future after the game. When asked, he repeated what has sounded like a prerecorded message the past few weeks. He will sit down and make a decision soon.
“He’s done a lot for this program,” interim coach Reggie Herring said. “In my book he’ll probably be the greatest running back to don a Razorback jersey.”
Jones said he would be a Razorback when asked about his future earlier in the week, but changed his tune after the game. The Tulsa native, who has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, plans to make a decision regarding his future in “a week or two.”
“I haven’t talked to my family,” Jones said. “I’ll make a decision. I’ll let you know.”
Jones said the Arkansas coaching staff pulled both players off the field because of the large deficit early in the fourth quarter. In his words, the Razorbacks didn’t want to risk either one suffering an injury with the game out of reach.
Teammates hugged the tailbacks while they stood on the sideline. McFadden and Jones also embraced at one point.
Luigs was one of those players who had a few words for both as time winded down. They haven’t announced their future plans, yet, but Luigs thinks he knows where they’ll be next fall.
“I just told them that it was an honor blocking for them,” Luigs said. “Good luck in their careers and stay in touch.”
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