During the offseason, we have been counting down the days by profiling the player on the roster whose number corresponds with the number of days left until Arkansas' kickoff. One problem for the final day of the countdown. There is not a No. 1 on the 2013 team, and the most recent player to don the lowest number on the roster was arrested and kicked off the team. Linebacker Anthony Leon wore No. 1 during his tenure at Arkansas in 2009 and 2010.
No worries. I think I have found a former player worthy of the final spot on our College Football Countdown.
Yesterday, I tweeted out a question to my droves of followers (said in jest, though I appreciate you all) (Note from Doc: seriously, y'all should follow Graham. @grahamreaves) :
I've never been a #tbt-er, but in light of today, what is your first college football memory?— Graham Reaves (@grahamreaves) August 29, 2013
Then I got to thinking, what was mine? I have some blurry memories of Nebraska, Michigan, and Florida's Danny Weurrful's passing from the early to mid 90s, but I could not narrow it down to one spot in time. I scoured old highlights, records from that era and tried to remember where I was when I saw specific plays, but I couldn't place the context in which I had originally seen it on TV -- or in person. So, in my mind, those earlier memories didn't count towards my first college football memory.
Then it hit me like Tony Bua caught me going over the middle. My first memory was watching a Razorback game. It was 1995, and the Hogs were on the road in Tuscaloosa. Here is one of those moments in Arkansas history in which every fan knows where they were and the company they shared. I'll let Tim Brando of Jefferson Pilot (naturally) take over from here.
Then I realized it was JJ Meadors, with the No. 1 jersey on, who caught the pass from Barry Lunney Jr, another problem solved by the 5-foot-6 receiver.
I vividly remember sitting in the den of my family's house in Alabama, not completely understanding why my old man launched out off the couch declaring, "He caught the ball! He caught the ball!" In the back of his mind, he knew Alabama fans at church would be at least a little more bearable the next day.
My mother, who is uncharacteristically animated during Razorback games, joined my father. My sister and I almost instantaneously followed suit and a family-wide Calling of the Hogs was set into motion.
My old man went through the replays, explaining the Meadors' catch. How he "clearly" did NOT trap the ball, and how the mood in the room would have been drastically different if Meadors had indeed trapped the pigskin. This moment spawned my eventual love for the game, a lifelong bond and endless conversations between a father and his son.
This is when it all started for me, when there was no going back from Razorback fandom. When what my dad did on Saturday afternoons became what WE did together. The launching point to what will be lifelong connection between my family. Because now we are older and the children are not always home for football Saturdays. No matter where we are on Saturdays when the Razorbacks play, I can count on three other people watching, even if only in spirit, right beside me.
For that, here's a big "thank you" to Lunney for finding Meadors and No. 1 hauling in an unbelievable catch.