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CFN's Conversation With Darren McFadden
Arkansas RB Darren McFadden
Arkansas RB Darren McFadden
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 30, 2007


Arkansas superstar running back Darren McFadden went from being known as the best player in the nation, but outside the Heisman leaders, to deep in the hunt for the big prize after his transcendent performance against LSU. What's the Heisman hype like? Is he coming back next year? Who would he vote for? It's all in the CFN conversation.

CFN's Conversation With Darren McFadden

By Pete Fiutak   

I've been unabashed in my campaigning for Florida QB Tim Tebow to win the Heisman. It's nothing personal, I've never met the guy, but I truly believe he's been the signature player this year and I firmly believe he's had the best season of anyone in America. And now it's time to get another perspective and another option straight from the source.

Of couse Darren McFadden is a worthy Heisman candidate. Of course he belongs among the gods of the game, which comes with winning the Heisman, or at least coming really close. Of course he could go down as one of the greatest players ever, win or lose two Saturdays from now.

My arguing hasn't been anti-DMC in any way, and I've avoided at every turn to go negative, partly because he's one of my favorite players to watch, and mainly because these are still college kids were rambling about. The important thing to remember when it comes to the Heisman debate is how these are all, for the most part, great guys who just want to be college kids and have fun. Few are doing that better than McFadden.

We all like to break down the stats, scrutinize performances, and go over the minutiae of everything these great players do, but in the end, they're the only sane, mature part of the process. We're the crazy ones.

As you'll see, no one has a better perspective on the entire Heisman chase than they guy who might actually win it. Done yesterday (November 29th), here's the CFN conversation with the Arkansas superstar.

CFN: You having fun with this Heisman stuff?

Darren McFadden: Oh yeah … there’s so much going on with it, it all gets pretty fun. It gets crazy at times, but yeah, this is fun. I enjoy it.

CFN: Really? Most Heisman candidates, especially at this point, get sick of talking to all the silly people and having all the attention and all the same questions asked over and over again.

DM: It’s all kind of strange, but actually, the attention from the fans is crazier than from the media. When I’m out and about, I think I’m this regular person, but everyone looks at me in a different way and treats me differently. Really, I’m like everyone else. But with the media, it’s all fun because that’s just part of all the hype.  If the attention is there, we must be doing something right. That part I can get used to and it gets fun to be a part of this. But with the fans, they’re great, but that part I have a hard time with sometimes.

CFN:
What’s been the hardest part about dealing with the fans?

DM: Everywhere I go, when I come outside, people want autographs, wait by my car, and get after me. It can get too be crazy sometimes when I’m just trying to go out and be like a normal person.

CFN:
At any SEC school, when you start running for a ton of yards against a defense like LSU’s, that normal person life stops in a big hurry.

DM: Oh yeah. It’s not that bad.

CFN:
.How did being in the Heisman race last year help prepare you for this year. Most of the time, Heisman candidates go from relative unknowns to the weekly spotlight and they’re not sure how to handle it.

DM: It helped me a whole lot. You never get used to the camera and the spotlight and all the media attention, but now I know what to look for. Now I know how to handle myself and be prepared for what’s coming my way. Last year I was still trying to figure out how I should be dealing with everyone.

CFN:
.Every Heisman candidate is coached to always praise the team and not make it about himself, but now that the regular season is over and now that you know you’re off to some bowl, at the moment, it is all about you. Are you able to be Mr. Self Promotion and hype yourself up when you have to?

DM: For me, though, it really is all about my team. They got me to this point and I wouldn’t be able to talk about myself and make it about me if it wasn’t for everyone else. But yeah, at this point, I do feel like I deserve to be here with the time I’ve put in and the work that I’ve done. It’s about the team, but I’ve earned this time, too.

CFN:
.Okay then, stump away. I’m holding my Heisman ballot in my hand. Tell me why I’m voting for you.

DM: You know every time you see me play you’re going to get the maximum effort and everything I’ve got on every single play, and I’ll do whatever’s needed. I’m going against the SEC defensive lines every week and I’ll run it, line up wide, play quarterback, return kicks, and I’ll produce wherever I’m at. I feel like I’ve been able to do a great job at all those things this year and I feel like I’ve been successful wherever I’ve been able to line up. Not many players can do that.

CFN:
.Fine, so be on the other side. From what you’ve seen, what do you like about Tim Tebow, Chase Daniel and Pat White?

DM: I love to watch Tim Tebow play. I love the way he plays hard every play. I love his style. Daniel does a great job of making so many plays because he’s mobile. He’s a playmaker. I’m a fan of how White plays to be so mobile and so electrifying. He’s so small, but he’s still tough and does a great job. These are all great guys, but I feel like the competition in the SEC is superior to the other conferences and I’ve been able to do more against these great SEC teams.

CFN:
.So who would you vote for?

DM: I would vote for Darren McFadden.

CFN:
.Exactly. That’s the exact answer you’re supposed to give. You know you’re good. You know you might just be the best player in America. Do you need a bunch of goofy voters to validate that?

DM: It would really be disappointing if I don’t win it, I want to win, of course, but I know what I can do. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. If I was to win, it would be a great personal accomplishment and something I’d always be proud of, but if I don’t win it, it wouldn’t be like there was anything else I could’ve done. I feel like I’ve done everything I could do to be a great college player, and I don’t feel like I need it or something would be missing, or there was something I’d need to prove. I can only do everything I can do.

CFN:
.What advice would you give to a future Heisman-caliber player as far as handling everything that comes with the scrutiny?

DM: You’ve got to put the personal accomplishments in the back of your mind at the beginning of the season. You can’t control winning the Heisman. You can only do the best you can. Go out there and play your game and don’t try to force anything, because when you’re forcing things, you’ll make mistakes.

CFN:
.When you’re lining up at quarterback, how much freedom does the coaching staff give you to find a second and third option rather than just tucking and running when the first option isn’t there?

DM: I feel like I have more freedom that most would. There are some plays when I only have one option, but there are plays when I have a checkdown and sometimes I have several other options. I know where to look because I’ve played quarterback before. I know that if it’s not there to throw it away or tuck it and run. I know to not try to make a throw that isn’t there.

CFN:
.All receivers are nuts when it comes to lobbying the quarterback for the ball. Do your receivers do that to you when it’s your turn under center?

DM: No, mostly because when I’m there it’s usually a one-way call or a one-man route. There’s not too much of that going on because I’m usually looking for one receiver.

CFN:
.How are you a better player this year than last year?

DM: I’m a lot more used to playing quarterback and more comfortable there than I was last year. I had a great offseason. I worked really hard and had a great summer, and it has all carried through to this season. I feel like I’m more comfortable in everything I need to do.

CFN:
.How’s the team dealing with Coach Nutt going to Ole Miss?

DM: It’s been very hard on all of us. He’s a great coach and he’s been a great friend to us. He loves all the players and it’s hard to know he’s going. We’re moving forward. We have a bowl game to look forward to and we just have to keep moving on and preparing. That’s all we can do.

CFN:
.How did he make you a better player?

DM: He was always there for me. He made me a better man, period, just by talking to me and helping me out whenever I needed it.

CFN:
.What would it take for you to come back for a senior season?

DM: It’s something I’m going to have to sit down with my family and my coaching staff and see what’s best for me and my future. I can’t start thinking about that right now.

CFN:
.Have you gotten any sort of feedback or advice from anyone yet on what to do after this season?

DM: Nothing yet. None of that has really started up yet and I haven’t gone through the process at all. I’ll deal with that after the season.

CFN:
.Is the NFL talk or the Heisman hype more distracting during the season?

DM: I was very focused during the season by putting those things on the side. I can’t even think about those things because there’s nothing I can do about them besides playing the best I can play. For me, it wasn’t a problem at all.

CFN:
.Yeah, but when you see Adrian Peterson blowing up San Diego or Chicago, how could you not think how that could be you?

DM: I can’t say a part of me doesn’t think about it. I can’t help but think that maybe I can do some of those things in that league, but that’s for later. I’ll deal with all of that when it’s my time.

CFN:
.What do you feel like you need to be better at before you feel like you’re ready for the big league?

DM: I just have to keep working like I’ve been working. I can’t let up. As long as I’m working hard, period, then I feel like I’ll be fine.

CFN:
.Should players be allowed to turn pro after their freshman or sophomore seasons? Should they do away with the three-years-out-of-high-school eligiblity rule?

DM: Everybody needs that college experience before going to the next level. One year of college ball, or two years, really is needed to make you ready. The rule is fine.

CFN:
.Outside of football, what’s been your favorite part about Arkansas?

DM: Just being around my teammates and fans. Getting all the love from the whole state; that’s been amazing. Being able to be a part of this and everything around Arkansas has been unbelievable.

CFN:
.What would you be doing if you weren’t a football player?

DM: I’d be right here at Arkansas. Just like I am now.