Class of 2020 College Spotlight: Steve Atwater at Arkansas




In honor of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020, we are turning back the clocks and looking at the collegiate careers that set the foundation for these future Hall of Famers.

Next on the list is Denver Broncos secondary stopper Steve Atwater, who made a name for himself during his four seasons at the University of Arkansas from 1985-1988.

Steve Atwater’s Career at Arkansas

After spending his high school career as a quarterback at St. Louis Lutheran North in Missouri, Atwater was moved to safety when he enrolled at the University of Arkansas.

At 6-foot-3 and 200-plus pounds, Atwater was a dominating physical presence in the Razorbacks’ secondary for four years.

He burst onto the scene in his first season in Fayetteville, playing in 11 games and recording two interceptions as a freshman.

His transformation as a defensive stalwart was complete by his second season, as Atwater was second on the team with four interceptions and helped lead Arkansas to a 9-3 record.

Atwater cemented himself as one of the best secondary players in the country during his junior and senior seasons.

As a junior, he led the Razorbacks with four interceptions, including a return touchdown. Arkansas finished the season 9-4.

Then, as a senior with a shot at the NFL within his grasp, Atwater produced another prolific season. As one of the defensive leaders on the team, Atwater recorded another four interceptions to become the program’s all-time leader and helped the Razorbacks start the season an impressive 10-0. They lost their final two games of the season, including a 17-3 Cotton Bowl defeat to UCLA, but the Razorbacks production had thrust Atwater into the spotlight right before the NFL Draft.

His last piece of collegiate business was the 1989 East-West Shrine Game, where he recorded two interceptions and was named the game’s most valuable player.

1989 NFL Draft

Following his record-breaking tenure at Arkansas and MVP performance at the East-West Shrine Game, Atwater was selected with the No.20 pick in the 1989 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.

He would play 10 of the 11 seasons of his Hall of Fame career in Denver.

Steve Atwater’s College Accolades

  • Three-Time All-Southwest Conference
  • All-Time Arkansas Interceptions Leader ­– 14
  • 1980s Arkansas All-Decade Team
  • Arkansas All-Century Team
  • 1998 Inductee into Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor

All Hall of Famers from Arkansas

• Lance Alworth – Class of 1978

• Dan Hampton – Class of 2002

• Jerry Jones – Class of 2017

• Steve Atwater – Class of 2020

• Jimmy Johnson – Class of 2020

See Atwater Get Enshrined into the Hall of Fame

Join the Razorbacks and Broncos faithful in Canton to honor the enshrinement of Steve Atwater into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Attend 2020 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls with an Official Ticket Package from HOF Experiences. Click below to see everything that is included with an Official Ticket Package.



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