FAYETTEVILLE -- On the topic of best offensive linemen the state of Arkansas has produced, Camden's Shawn Andrews is a huge part of the conversation.
A dominating right tackle for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the early 2000s, Andrews went on to have a 10-year career in the NFL after earning All-America status in 2002-2003 and becoming the first Razorback sophomore to be named a consensus All-American.
Shawn Andrews glance
Birthdate Dec. 25, 1982 (Age 35)
High School Camden Fairview
Family Wife Janetta, sons Jashawn (10) and Kyrie (2)
Position Offensive tackle
Noteworthy A two-time consensus All-America selection (2002-2003) who also won the SEC’s Jacobs Trophy as the conference’s best blocker in those two seasons. … The Razorbacks’ first sophomore to win consensus All-America honors in 2002. … Finalist for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as a junior in 2003. … Early entry for NFL Draft and was a first-round pick, No. 16 overall, by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. … First-team All-Pro in 2006 and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. … Rookie starter in 2004 for the Eagles, who won the NFC Championship and played in the Super Bowl, before breaking his leg. … Played six NFL seasons for the Eagles and New York Giants. … Selected as Arkansas’ SEC Legend by the conference in 2016.
The ninth in a series profiling the nine newest members of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is tonight at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
What set the 6-4, 330-pounder apart was his agility and athleticism, though he could match power with the best linemen of his era.
"I've been in this for 35 years and never had one with his athleticism and size and power," former Arkansas offensive line coach Mike Markuson said. "Man, he's truly the most gifted offensive lineman I ever had the pleasure of working with."
Those qualities earned Andrews three Pro Bowl selections and helped solidify a spot in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, into which he'll be inducted tonight as part of a nine-member class.
Andrews, now living in Little Rock with wife Janetta and sons Jashawn and Khyrie, said receiving the honor was unexpected.
"Of course I've heard of guys making the hall of fame -- like Jermain Taylor, who was at my NFL Draft party -- so to join the ranks of like the Pat Bradleys and those guys, it was a shocker," Andrews said. "But at the same time, it's proof that hard work does pay off."
Andrews made his mark as a fun-loving guy who could clown around before and after practice, but he got busy on the field. He was frequently seen doing handstands and walking around on his hands off the practice field.
"It was my way of showing that big guys, hey, we can be agile and do some of the things smaller guys can do," Andrews said. "It was kind of my way of showing off.
"Growing up in Camden, we didn't have a lot of the toys and gadgets that they have today. So we used to go out in the street -- me and my brother Stacy and our smaller cousins -- and we'd jump over fences, play sidewalk ball, just creating our own little fun. Doing flips, playing hopscotch. I never got the backwards flip down pat, but cartwheels and handstands were my thing."
Former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville coach Houston Nutt recalled attending his daughters' AAU basketball games and noticing Andrews' dexterity on the court for the Arkansas Lightning.
"I went to ask somebody, 'Who is this guy here?' He was a 10th-grader," Nutt said. "Somebody tell me this guy plays football."
Nutt said he told his brother Danny, the lead in-state recruiter, to make sure the Hogs got him on campus for a camp. Danny Nutt did just that, and the Razorbacks offered Andrews immediately.
Andrews went on to win the Jacobs Trophy as the best blocker in the SEC in both 2002 and 2003, and he was a finalist for both the Outland and Lombardi trophies in his junior season of 2003. He declared early for the NFL Draft and was the No. 16 pick of the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles, with whom he played five seasons and earned Pro Bowl recognition from 2005-2007.
Markuson recalled a situation early in Andrews' career in 2001, when both he and strength coach Don Decker were having issues with the big freshman and went in to talk to Houston Nutt.
"So we're in there kind of complaining, and I can't remember what it was about, just little crummy stuff that happens with kids," Markuson said. "Decker went in and gave his spiel. I went in and gave my spiel.
"He said, 'Don, Mike, you're never, ever gonna coach a guy like Shawn Andrews again, so let's make it work. Let's go talk to him a little bit more and let's try to get along.' "
Nutt laughed when recalling that incident.
"I said, 'Let's figure it out, how we're gonna get him motivated, because the guy can flat-out play,' " he said.
Andrews did not start the first two games of his true freshman season in 2001, but he did in Week 3 at Alabama.
"I'll never forget, we were playing down at Alabama and it was either the first or second snap of the game, and he got up under a linebacker and de-cleated him, lifted him off the ground and planted him," Markuson said. "We didn't look back after that, obviously."
Andrews and tight end Jason Peters made a name for themselves by dominating on the right side of the Arkansas line.
"That was special," Andrews said. "I remember thinking, 'This dude is a country boy like myself,' and we clicked immediately.
"We were moving people back in practice. It became so bad ... coach Nutt got tired of us beating on the defensive line and he made us line up against each other. It was a stalemate every single time."
Peters went on to have an All-Pro career with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles as an offensive tackle.
Andrews' NFL career was cut short by injuries, which he's dealing with today, though losing weight and undergoing a fitness regimen is helping.
"Oh my goodness," said Andrews, rattling off the body parts he's hurt, which include a broken fibula, shoulder and neck injuries, and two surgeries on his back. "You know what though, I would say my good days outweigh my bad. As long as I keep my regimen of stretching down. Trying to move around is a big key, so I don't get stiff."
Chasing around his toddler Khyrie keeps Andrews on the move these days, as does volunteer work.
"He's just finally turned the corner on sleeping better," Andrews said. "So at night time my wife has him, and during the day time I get the joy of spending time with him. When I'm away from him, I'm trying to do charity work, going around to different homeless shelters and volunteering and donating, and that's where I get most of my enjoyment."
Andrews said people ask him whether his time on stage as a football player was worth it, considering the health concerns.
"I would definitely say it's worth it because playing football is a short window, and you have a short time to make the most money you can," he said. "I did pretty well. But the most important thing for me now is the time I get to spend with my family. Just the time I get with my family, man, it's really priceless.
"All the bumps and bruises and surgery, people say 'Would you do it again?' I say in a split second I'd do it again."
Sports on 04/06/2018