Today we celebrate the best Trench Hogs of the BCS Era. Let’s start on the offensive side of the ball.
Center: Jonathan Luigs
Honorable Mention: Travis Swanson
There isn’t a coach in America that wouldn’t take either of these guys as their starting center. Luigs narrowly defeated Swanson in our vote, but Jonathan doesn’t pay attention to his haters while he is polishing his 2007 Remington Trophy. He was a three time First-Team All-SEC Selection (’06, ’07, ’08) and a consensus All-American in 2007. A 4th round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, the Little Rock native played eight games in the NFL.
All jokes aside, Travis Swanson had a phenomenal career as a Razorback as well. He started all 50 games of his Razorback career. He never missed a game. That almost never happens. He received praise from all three college head coaches he had during his career. He was the anchor for an offensive line that blocked for a 3,000-yard passer three times and two seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher.
Offensive Guards: Brandon Burlsworth, Mitch Petrus
Honorable Mention: Robert Felton, Stephen Parker
This is by far the group with the coolest story. Both Burlsworth and Petrus are Arkansas natives and were walk-ons. Burlsworth, who was one vote short of being unanimous one our list, was named the "#1 Greatest Walk-On of the BCS Era" by Bleacher Report. Most of you know his story. He is one of only two players in Arkansas Razorback history to have his number (77) retired. Burlsworth deserves his own blog post and has enough accolades for one (Editor's Note: We did one this summer! Every Hog fan should know his story.). I encourage you to check out the Burlsworth Foundation website to see the amazing things they do in memory of Brandon.
Petrus was an unrated tight end prospect and started his career as a fullback. His quick feet and athleticism allowed him to be a 280-pound wrecking ball out of the backfield for the beginning of his career. He moved to guard for the 2007 season and would spend the remainder of his career there. He was named Second-Team All-SEC in 2007 and First-Team All-SEC by the SEC coaches in 2009. A 5th round pick by the New York Giants in the 2010 draft, he was a part of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI Championship.
Offensive Tackles: Shawn Andrews, Tony Ugoh
You can’t go wrong with any of the guys above as they were all NFL Draft picks. Andrews was a unanimous decision by our crew. He was the closest thing Arkansas has had to William "Refrigerator" Perry. I know the Fridge played defense, but Andrews was also an interior lineman who was known to line up in the backfield on goal line situations. Okay, maybe it was just one touchdown run against New Mexico State, but it’s still fun to think about. He was a two time consensus All-American and First-Team All-SEC selection in ’02 and’03. Andrews was a 1st round pick to the Eagles and went on to three Pro Bowl selections.
Ugoh is another former Arkansas offensive lineman who has gone on to win a Super Bowl (Colts, XLIV). Ugoh was First-Team All-SEC and Third-Team All-American his senior season. He narrowly beat out Bobbie Williams by one vote in our poll. Williams has gone on to have a better pro career, even though Ugoh had a better college campaign. Both were 2nd round NFL Draft picks. Williams was a part of the Baltimore Ravens when they won Super Bowl XLVII.
Many people mistakenly remember Jason Peters as a tackle because of his highly successful pro career at the position, but he played primarily as a tight end at Arkansas. Some would say, "total Houston Nutt move." But, I heard Mack Brown recruited the 6’5’’ 340lbs Queen City, Texas native as a safety. He went undrafted in 2004, but has been selected to six Pro Bowls with the Bills and Eagles as a left tackle. Here is one of Peter's first TD catches as a Razorback:
Bo Lacy and Nate Garner are two lightly recruited Arkansans that would go on to start on the offensive line and be drafted into the NFL. Lacy was a 6th round pick by the Steelers in 2004 and Garner was a 7th round pick by the Jets in 2008. Garner moved to the Dolphins in 2009 and has been a member of that squad ever since.
Defensive Tackles: Marcus Harrison, Keith Jackson, Jr.
Honorable Mentions: DD Jones, Malcolm Sheppard
Easily the funniest story comes from this group. Keith Jackson, Jr. scored his first career touchdown on an interception return and, according to local legend, crapped his pants during the return. Someone even put sound effects to the video. The two time First-Team All-SEC selection (’05,’06) was selected in the seventh round of the 2007 draft by the Rams.
Harrison played alongside Jackson in’06 which was one of the most dominate defensive lines in Razorback history. He was a second-team All-SEC selection in ’07 and a third round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Sheppard was another fan favorite who spent time at both defensive end and tackle. He earned Second-Team All-SEC honors twice (’08, ’09). He was most famous for being called for one of the worst personal foul calls in the history of personal foul calls during the Florida game in ‘09. It was so bad, Marc Curles and his crew were suspended for a week after the league reviewed the call. The whole game was officiated so poorly, that one hog fan made an entire video just dedicated to the penalties the Hogs were called for in that game. The Sheppard call is around the 12:30 mark (if you feel like torturing yourself and re-watching that).
Honorable Mentions: Chris Smith, Carlos Hall
The addition of Bequette and Anderson means the entire All-BCS Era defensive line is from Little Rock. Bequette’s most famous hit almost killed Connor Shaw (I’m surprised no one has put the Jim Ross "Good God Almighty! He broke him in half!" audio to the clip). Bequette was a First-Team All-SEC selection in 2011 and a 3rd round pick to the Patriots in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Anderson literally came out of nowhere to record 17.5 sacks in his career at Arkansas. He was a wide receiver/tight end in high school and switched to defensive end his sophomore year of college after injuries plagued that position. He was the 8th overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2007 NFL Draft after completely dominating the SEC in 2006.
When he blows up the Auburn running back about thirty seconds into this clip, it set the course for that game, which set the course for the SEC West title that year.
Hall was named an Honorable Mention All-American in 2001 and Second-Team All-SEC by the Associated Press the same year. He is most famous a field goal block to preserve an upset over Lou Holtz’s #9 South Carolina team in Little Rock. Go to the 7:30 mark of the video for Hall’s block. He was a 7th round draft pick to the Titans in the 2002 draft.