Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Like It Is:
Flowers blossoms as an athlete and student
Arkansas defenders (left to right) Robert Thomas, Trey Flowers and Brandon Lewis celebrate after a turnover during Saturday afternoon's game against Louisiana-Lafayette at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- There is more than a page and a half dedicated to Trey Flowers in the 2014 Arkansas football media guide.
All of it is impressive: He made the SEC All-Freshman team after starting three games his first season, then had 50 tackles as a sophomore with 13 of those for a loss, and 13.5 tackles for a loss last season, plus an interception and three forced fumbles.
Then you get to the final paragraph, under the heading of personal, and the information jumps off the page.
It states simply: He is enrolled in the Walton College of Business and is majoring in economics. He was named to the Razorback Honor Roll for his work in the class in the fall of 2011 and to the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll in 2012 and 2013.
Last Sunday, sitting in his oversized locker, the first one in the massive dressing room, Flowers was laughing and smiling his way through interviews. He was one of the seniors expected to receive lots of attention.
This is the same young man who almost declared for the NFL after last season. But after Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema visited with him and his family, Flowers decided his work was not finished at Arkansas. Not on the field or in the classroom.
He will graduate in December, just 3 1/2 years after stepping foot on campus as a lightly recruited defensive end from Huntsville, Ala.
"What can I say?" he said. "I like math. I always have. I like that it always makes sense. It is a puzzle that always has a correct answer. My dad likes math, my sister likes math, so I guess I came by it naturally. It is in our genes."
The guy who is tied for 11th with 32 tackles for loss and is 16th in sacks with 12 in Arkansas' all-time record book knows one thing for certain.
"When you make the honor roll, you get a plaque and those are what my dad hangs on the wall every time," he said with a laugh.
Flowers smiles and laughs a lot.
He's friendly and very popular with his teammates, but he's not the same guy who came in as a freshman. That guy believed you led by playing hard on every down. Just set a good example and others will follow.
"That's about right, I was actually one of the more quiet guys," he said. "I've learned, though, to truly inspire, you have to use words, too."
Flowers was leader of the twice-a-week defensive meetings the players had this summer. When he spoke, others listened. He's one of the few left who contributed in the Cotton Bowl victory after the 2011 season, and he remembers the atmosphere when he became a Razorback.
"We were a top-five program in the country," he said. "Some of these guys were on the team that went to the BCS Sugar Bowl. We all want to get the Razorbacks back where they belong, as one of the nation's best programs. That had a lot to do with me deciding to come back for my senior year."
Flowers is 6-4, 268 pounds, but what makes him so difficult to block is he is an athlete -- he can go around blockers as well as through them.
His freshman year, he took a few steps back against Alabama and jumped as high as he could for a pass.
"I can still feel it on my finger tips," he said wistfully.
Would it have been a pick six?
"I'd like to think I could outrun some O-linemen and a quarterback," he said, smiling. "I hope I get one more chance."
Barring an injury, Flowers will be taken in next spring's NFL Draft, but he's not thinking about that now.
"There will be time for all that later. Right now, I'm focused on helping this team be the best it can be" he said.
And when the season ends, he'll walk across the stage with a degree in economics in less than four years.
Sports on 08/13/2014