LITTLE ROCK — Taught by a young professor, Intro to College Football included a steep learning curve for an 18-year-old from Little Rock.

LITTLE ROCK — Taught by a young professor, Intro to College Football included a steep learning curve for an 18-year-old from Little Rock.

It was the fall of 2007, one of those days when Arkansas’ scout team was going against the first team. The Razorbacks didn’t hit much after the season began, but this day was different.

Freshman end Jake Bequette was supposed to rush the passer and Felix Jones was supposed to protect the quarterback. Jones didn’t care much for the assignment and Bequette was quick to get to a spot near the passer, who was off limits.

Run it again, one of the coaches said, yanking Jones and subbing Darren McFadden, who embraced contact so enthusiastically that his coaches at Oak Grove High School encouraged him to try for interceptions rather than tackle and maim his teammates.

This time, Bequette got “the snot knocked out of him,” according to father, Jay. “The first thing to hit the ground was the back of his helmet with his head in it,” Jay said.

Bequette has come a long way since then, his progress noted when the coaches voted him first team All-Southeastern Conference despite dealing with a hamstring injury.

Fittingly for his family, Bequette ends his Arkansas career in the Jan. 6 Cotton Bowl. Grandfather George played in the Jan. 1, 1955, Cotton Bowl and often showed young sons Jay and Chris his bowl swag, including Stetson hat, cowboy boots and watch.

Even though Jake was redshirted the last time Arkansas was in the Cotton Bowl, George was present. A devotee of practice, he hung out in the end zone at SMU, watching the Razorbacks work and talking football with beat writers, UA insiders and others.

“It was a big deal to my family, the Bequettes and the Kings,” Jake said recently. “My mother’s side is all from Dallas. I can tell you that my grandfather had a lot of pride that his grandson was on a Cotton Bowl team, just like he was in 1954. I heard a lot of stories about his team and playing in the Cotton Bowl.”

That Jan. 1, 2008, game vs. Missouri was a disaster. Bobby Petrino had been hired to replace Houston Nutt, but defensive coordinator Reggie Herring was in charge for the bowl game.

The defense was in such disarray that Missouri running back Tony Temple set a Cotton Bowl record with 281 yards rushing despite sitting out some with a hamstring problem.

On many of his 24 carries, Temple did not encounter a defender until he was yards past the line of scrimmage. Somebody said he was Missouri’s Roland Sales, a good but not great Arkansas back who made 205 yards against Oklahoma in the 1978 Orange Bowl.

This time around, Kansas State will offer an established threat — quarterback Collin Klein — that Bequette and others must contain. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Klein kept the ball 22 times or more in 10 of KSU’s 12 games and scored 26 rushing touchdowns, second in the country only to Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball of Wisconsin.

All told, Klein ran or passed on 571 of KSU’s 826 plays. He is a hybrid player to the point that he was all purpose player of the year in the Big 12, an honor normally reserved for a return specialist.

During the year, running quarterbacks hurt Arkansas, including LSU’s Jordan Jefferson who was unnoticed on a 48-yard TD run when the Razorbacks swarmed a fake to the running back.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is