The Dan Hampton Award is presented to the top Arkansas high school defensive lineman and the top Arkansas collegiate defensive lineman. A selection panel of statewide media along with Hampton select 3 finalists and the winner for both high school and college awards. The winners are honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s annual awards banquet.
NFL Hall of Fame Member Dan Hampton on the Award
“Today I’m very proud to have this award named on my behalf. It is indeed a high honor and I am very grateful to have been recognized for my career from Jacksonville through the NFL. From beginning to the end I was blessed with great teammates and terrific coaching but I am proud to say the one true quality that I valued above all others was a relentless will to win. Great talent is a blessing from God but desire is self administered and will also be highly regarded in our panels evaluations of players this fall. I’d like thank the Little Rock Touchdown Club and everyone associated with this award. We relish the chance to identify the most important players in all of Arkansas in the coming season.”
An injury caused by an accident kept Dan Hampton out of organized sports in junior high, but he made up for lost time during his junior and senior years at Jacksonville High School. Playing for Bill Reed’s Red Devils, Hampton caught the eye of the University of Arkansas coaching staff and went on to star on defense for the Razorbacks at the end of the Frank Broyles era and the start of the Lou Holtz era. He was a four-year letterman at Arkansas, a three-year starter, and a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection. Hampton was named to the Razorback All-Decade team of the 1970s.
Hampton made his mark as a freshman with 21 tackles in 1975. He had 48 tackles and recovered two fumbles as a sophomore. His tackle total rose to 70 as a junior. Hampton earned All-American honors his senior season with 98 tackles. He was the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 and was the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 pick (the fourth pick overall) in the 1979 NFL draft.
Hampton made an immediate impact as a rookie when he had 70 tackles, 48 of which were solo efforts, and recovered two fumbles. Hampton would be a first- or second-team All-Pro choice six times as either a defensive end or tackle. Nicknamed “Danimal” for his ferocious style of play, Hampton played 12 seasons for the Bears despite 10 knee surgeries and numerous other injuries.
Hampton retired in 1990, having become just the second Bear to play in three different decades. He was inducted into the University of Arkansas’ Sports Hall of Honor in 1991, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.