The Arkansas Razorbacks of the BCS era weren't known for their defense.
But that didn't stop those defenses from having a quartet of defensive backs that still make my head and teeth hurt.
Part of that is a good thing - the two safeties on the list specialized in the kind of bone-jarring hits that break teeth and cause concussions - and the two cornerbacks permanently occupied the space where you never knew what they were going to do.
These four selections were unanimous, and, quite frankly, obvious.
Cornerback Chris Houston
Houston came to Arkansas from Austin, Texas, and finished his career with 89 tackles, 3 interceptions, and an All-SEC selection in his junior season. Houston's best game as a Razorback came in 2006 against an utterly terrible Mississippi State team, where he picked off two passes, took one back for a touchdown, set the school's single-game record for interception return yards and helped the Hogs clinch the SEC west in Starkville.
Houston was the target of plenty of criticism early in his career, but he improved substantially throughout his years on the hill and ultimately became a solid, dependable corner who was an easy selection for this team. Combined with Matterral Richardson and Rashaad Johnson, he was part of one of the better overall groups of d-backs in school history.
Houston was picked by Bobby Petrino's Atlanta Falcons with the 41st overall pick, where he played for three years before joining the Detroit Lions.
Cornerback Ahmad Carroll
Batman was another easy choice for this list, not only because of his nickname, but also because he was fast, aggressive to the point of it being detrimental, and had a boatload of swag before the word was even invented.
Batman, an Atlanta native and highly-touted recruit, was an All-SEC player in 2002 and 2003, and finished his career with 140 tackles and 4 interceptions. Carroll was eventually drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round (25th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft.
However, Carroll flamed out in the NFL soon after, as his Wikipedia page beautifully puts it:
He was the target by many quarterbacks due to his tendency toward illegal contact penalties. These penalties finally got the best of him when in Week 4 of the 2006 season against the Philadelphia Eagles, Carroll was burned for two costly touchdowns by Greg Lewis and had three penalties. He was cut soon after.
Safety Ken Hamlin
Hamlin was one of my favorite Razorbacks of all time, and he was built like a video game character. Tall, lanky, muscular and hard-hitting as hell. Hamlin was a guy that running backs didn't want to encounter in the hole, even though he seemed to make every tackle without the use of his arms - instead preferring to throw a reckless, bone-crunching shoulder.
Hamlin tallied a ridiculous 159 tackles in 2002 (the 2nd-highest single-season total) and 381 tackles over the course of his career, good for 3rd-most all time in Razorback history. The Memphis native was a 2nd-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 2003, and he played for the Cowboys from 2006-2009.
Unfortunately for Hamlin, his life mirrored the way he played on the football field. Hamlin had a pair of DWIs in college, and was nearly killed in a streetfight while he was in Seattle.
Safety Kenoy Kennedy
Kennedy, an All-American and 2-time All-SEC selection, specialized in the kind of hits that get you flagged, fined and kicked out of games. Kennedy was an old-school assassin who could absolutely lay the boom.
Here's what Kennedy himself had to say about that hit:
"It scared me," Kennedy told the luncheon crowd. "I thought I had killed him. It was gruesome. The crowd went silent and our team was excited. His helmet went left out of bounds, a piece of the padding came out of the helmet the other way and his mouthpiece went up. He was knocked out Indian style and just fell out."
"That guy was calling for the trainer as soon as he hit the ground... He was talking through his helmet ear hole."
That was the norm for Kennedy, who racked up 287 career tackles as a Hog from 1996-1999, leading the team in back-to-back seasons. He went on to have an 8-year NFL career with the Broncos and Lions, was nothing short of a bad man who always arrived at the ball with bad intentions.