Darren McFadden was born and raised Little Rock, Arkansas and attended Oak Grove High School. While he attracted interest from schools in Alabama and Tennessee, McFadden chose stay close to home to attend the University of Arkansas between 2005 and 2008. Following his stand out performances for the Razorbacks, McFadden was selected to be the cover athlete for the Xbox 360 version of NCAA Football 09.
While a tailback for the Razorbacks, McFadden won many awards including being the first sophomore to win the Doak Walker Award in 2006. He won the award a second time in 2007. He also won the Walter Camp Award, the same year, as the nation's best player. McFadden was the runner-up for the coveted Heisman Trophy two years in a row in 2006 and 2007.