Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE (Univ. of Ark) - The University of Arkansas football team had three student-athletes voted to the 2013 SEC Media Days Preseason All-SEC Team, which was announced Thursday.
Center Travis Swanson and defensive end Chris Smith were voted to the first team, while kicker Zach Hocker earned third-team recognition. Arkansas is the only school with a first-team representative on both the offensive and defensive line. The 243 voters, most in SEC Media Days history, also predicted Arkansas to finish seventh in the SEC Western Division.
Swanson continues his preseason run of recognition after being named to watch lists for the Rimington Trophy, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award as well as multiple All-American and All-SEC teams. The Kingwood, Texas, native was a team captain and earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2012 after leading an offensive line that allowed just 1.58 sacks per game to rank third in the conference and blocked as 24 school or SEC records were broken. Swanson has started all 38 games of his collegiate career, which is tied for the fourth-longest active consecutive games started streak in the country. He has blocked for a 3,000-yard passer in each season, including the first season in school history with a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher and the first time in school history the Razorbacks produced a 1,000-yard receiver in consecutive seasons.
Smith, who was included on watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award, has been a near-consensus first-team preseason All-SEC selection after earning honorable mention All-SEC acclaim in 2012. The Mount Ulla, N.C., native started all 12 games last season, recording 52 tackles, 13.0 for loss with 9.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and one fumble. He and Jadeveon Clowney are the only two returners in the SEC with at least 9.0 sacks last season. Smith's sacks total ranked seventh on Arkansas' single-season list, and his average of 0.79 sacks per game ranked fourth in the SEC and 25th in the NCAA. His average of 1.08 tackles for loss per game tied for fifth in the conference with teammate Trey Flowers. Smith enters 2013 tied for 12th on UA's career sacks list with 13.0.
Hocker enters the 2013 season as the SEC's active career leader in total points scored, points per game and PATs made and holds school career records for points by a kicker, made PATs and PAT attempts. In his first three seasons, the Russellville, Ark., native has scored 287 points by connecting on 143-of-145 PATs and 48-of-64 field goals. In addition to his school records, he ranks in the top five on Arkansas' career lists for total points scored, field goal percentage, made field goals and field goal attempts. Last season, he led the NCAA with an average kickoff of 64.7 yards, ranked second in the SEC and sixth in the nation with a touchback percentage of 67.27 and ranked third in the conference and tied for 11th in the country with 39 touchbacks.
The Razorbacks report for preseason camp Aug. 4 and open the 2013 season Aug. 31 by hosting Louisiana inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville at 3 p.m. on FSN.