When we talk undervalued what does it mean? Is it a guy that outperformed his recruiting ranking? What about being one of the best to ever wear the jersey but was not on a great team? How about a guy that completely tore it up during his career but is looked over because there are several others that played the same position that are just as good?
Thousands of players have worn the Razorback uniform since the birth of football in the Natural State in 1894.
When many fans think of greatest Razorbacks in school history they forget about the offensive and defensive lines. They are not flashy guys and are not really the ones that receive the spotlight unless you are the 2015 group. You know, the one that was featured on the Arkansas media guide. That was a Bret Bielema special. Luigs was a man that got the job done at his center position and started 49 games at multiple line positions during his career. Call him Mr. Consistency. He finished his Razorback career as a three time All-SEC performer, winner of the Rimington trophy in 2007.
The Razorbacks went through Hades early on in their SEC tenure. They went to the SEC Championship Game in 1995 under Danny Ford which was their second winning season in four tries. After back to back 4-7 seasons, Ford was fired and the to-be junior and seniors were looking to have a breakout year and that is certainly what it was. Stoerner is going to be the only quarterback on this list because when you talk about great quarterbacks there is usually five or six that come up before you call on his name. Razorback fans knew he could throw the deep ball but could he consistently throw the other routes, too? In 1998 he sure did. Stoerner’s ability to throw a deep ball from anywhere on the field was remarkable. Even when there was double or triple coverage he could drop a dime right into the breadbasket of his receiver. Reading overages, throwing strikes on the run, precision and accuracy were considered typical next level for a college quarterback. He still resides in the top ten for pass attempts in a season and holds the career record for pass attempts (1,023). Stoerner also ranks fourth in all-time passing yards (7,422).
The Spiro, Oklahoma native played on one good team for the Razorbacks which was the 1995 SEC-West division champion team that was able to taste success in the Hogs new conference. Team success aside, the individual statistics he put up were very good with 153 career receptions (4th), 2440 yards (4th) and 16 career touchdowns (8th).
Here is a man who could be considered before his time. The passing game had not been fully developed nor was it as sophisticated as it is today. Benton led the NCAA in receptions in 1937 and finished his Razorback career with 82 receptions for 1103 yards and 12 touchdowns. Call him a pioneer if you will. If you look through the record books you can still find his name amongst the best receivers in Razorback history. His 814 yards in the 1937 season still ranks 12th in school history. Benton’s seven touchdowns in 1937 has him tied for eighth all time and his 13 career touchdowns has him ranked 14th all time.
We would be doing an injustice not to include a defensive player. Geez, even a defensive player no one talks about as an all-time great or even mentioned at all as a best ever. This converted defensive end (wide receiver in high school) raised the bar for future Razorback head hunters. In 2006, he needed one more sack to boast the single season record. WE STILL DO NOT TALK ABOUT HIM. What else made him special? He sits in the top ten with career sacks, too with 17.5. Not that I want to turn this article into a what if but really. What if he had returned for his senior year?
“Mr. Bowling Ball” had quite the career while at Arkansas but was so under appreciated as a Razorback. He could see a hole, make a man miss, bounce off tacklers, had adequate breakaway speed and was an exciting kickoff return man. Oh yeah, no one talks about him either. Not only could he run the ball but he was very good in pass protection and catching the ball out of the backfield. In his final two seasons he had 415 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns out of the backfield. The way the Bobby Petrino offense was set up it was always a pass first, run second and if Johnson had been in a run first offense he likely would have been a 1,000 yard back at least once in his career. He finished his Razorback career with 2036 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Let’s not forget about his ability to return kicks either. He recorded 2784 yards off kickoff returns which is an SEC record. You also cannot forget he scored three touchdowns, too. Johnson had tons of value to those Petrino coached teams.
We will keep the ride going with another Petrino era player, this one on defense. Nelson had the best name of all Razorbacks in that era. Likely, because of my early adolescent love for professional wrestling and Chris Jericho. That aside, this Hog put up very good numbers as a Razorback. Going back looking at his career, I cannot believe I 1) forgot about this guy and 2) was a heck of a hitter, too. Just ask the Auburn running back whose facemask was stuck to Nelson’s. The former class of 2008 four star linebacker/defensive back recorded 268 career tackles, 27 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, four interceptions and one interception return for a touchdown as a senior.
Can you really call it old school for a guy that played in the 1980’s? Foster was utilized well during his time at Arkansas. He was mainly the fullback option in Ken Hatfield’s wishbone offense. He lined up by another Razorback some could say was under valued in James Rouse and another back by the name of E.D. Jackson. As good of a three year run as he had at Arkansas, Foster compiled 1977 yards and 13 touchdowns. One of those included his famous 80 yard touchdown at Miami in 1988. Foster went on to bigger things in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he recorded over 3900 career yards and 26 touchdowns. One of the greatest ever to wear the cardinal and white.