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 member and past president 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. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
NFL Draft brought back plenty of memories
Arkansas' All-American tackle Shawn Andrews (73) goes through drills during practice in Fayetteville, Oct. 29, 2003. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)
Last week’s NFL Draft brought up a lot of memories.
Such as being at the Capitol Hotel for Shawn Andrews’ watch party, sitting with his family and enjoying the nervous excitement.
Shawn was a freshman at the Arkansas Razorback media days when we first met. He was sitting in a metal folding chair, alone, and when we shook hands he declared with that infectious laugh of his: “Oh my, I grew up reading you.’
A friendship was born that day that lasts to today, not just with him but his family.
When Shawn went to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 16th pick in the first round, it was just the beginning for the family.
Stacy Andrews was an All-American thrower for the Ole Miss track and field program and a walk-on for football his senior season. The first time he was called into a game, as a left tackle no less, he protected Eli Manning enough for the winning touchdown.
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The Andrews boys are athletic and Stacy was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round the same weekend his brother was drafted.
Shawn played six years in the NFL but mostly in pain the last few years with back issues, but he was a two-time All-Pro with the Eagles.
Stacy played seven years professionally and won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2012, again blocking for Manning.
Both appear to be at least 50 pounds lighter now than when they were in the NFL.
Oldest brother Derrick was a career Army man and mom Linda lives near her sons.
Also going in the first round from Arkansas in 2004 was Ahmad Carroll, in 2005 it was Matt Jones and in 2007 it was Jamaal Anderson — one of the great Razorback success stories.
In high school, Anderson was a lean 6-6 receiver on the football team and forward in basketball for the Little Rock Parkview Patriots. He was extremely athletic and finished second in the voting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Athlete of the Year behind Marcus Monk, who also became a Razorback and played football and basketball.
Anderson went to a couple of Razorback summer camps but didn’t really wow anyone with his speed. His hands and moves yes, but he ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash.
He got a late offer from Houston Nutt and took it.
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After his freshman season it was suggested he get in the weight room, put on some weight and move to defensive end. It was not his favorite proposal but he did it, and worked his way to All-SEC and honorable mention All-American.
With the eighth pick in the first round of the 2007 draft the Atlanta Falcons took Anderson.
He played five full seasons and part of a sixth before deciding to retire.
A few years ago at his parents home, Glenn and Karen Anderson, Jamaal Anderson had a graduation party. His dad has a doctorate and is a professor at Arkansas-Little Rock, so not going back and get those last few hours and his degree wasn’t a choice.
From 2-star wide receiver to a first-round NFL pick as a defensive end doesn’t happen every day. But Anderson — like the Andrews brothers — is a story of hard-work, desire and sacrifice combined with great athleticism.
The next year, 2008, the Razorbacks had two first-round picks and they are the greatest running back tandem in school history and one of the best of all time: Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
Since 1936 when the first NFL Draft was held, the Razorbacks have had 24 first-round picks and six of those occurred in a five-year span and four of those were homegrown Arkansans.
The last first-round pick the Hogs had was Treylon Burks in 2022. He grew up in Warren, just 57 minutes from where the Andrews boys were raised.
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