He is the answer to a trivia question in the annals of Arkansas football history and Green Bay Packers history.
Not many know the answer.
But Lamar McHan, who toiled in relative obscurity on Otis Douglas’ talented but under-achieving teams from 1951-53, still is the Razorback football player chosen highest in the NFL Draft.
He played in high school for the legendary Lamar Dingler at Lake Village and another Arkansas high school coach, David Alpe at Malvern, grew up watching him play.
As a sophomore with the Hogs, McHan was part of a trio of quarterbacks (well, technically they were called tailbacks back then in the Single Wing, but it was the modern-day quarterback position) with Jim Rinehart and Ralph Troillett. McHan was obviously the future, but it took awhile to get him in full-time.
That happened against Texas, who Arkansas had not beaten since 1938. McHan’s runs kept the Razorbacks’ offense moving early and his quick-kicks (one of his specialties), then he started pitching it to Jack Troxell.
That netted a 40-yard run in the second half to set up Troxell’s 9-yard scoring run minutes later that gave Arkansas a 16-7 lead. The Hogs held on for a 16-14 win, then promptly lost to Santa Clara the next week.
The 1951 team finished 5-5 and it proved to be the best team McHan had in Fayetteville. The next years were 2-8 and 3-7.
McHan led the Southwest Conference in passing (1,107), total offense (1,516), punting (40.2), and punt returns (11.1 average) in 1953.
But he was chosen No. 2 in the draft by the Chicago Cardinals and that led to an 11-year career in the league. He was traded to Green Bay in 1959 and was Vince Lombardi’s first quarterback before being replaced by Bart Starr.
In 1961 he was traded to Baltimore where he backed up Johnny Unitas, another Hall of Famer, for three seasons before finishing his NFL career in San Francisco behind John Brodie.
After a year in the Canadian league, McHan went into coaching, first at Greenville, Miss., High School for a year, then Northern Arizona, then at Texas-Arlington. When they dropped football in 1973, he moved to New Orleans and was on the staffs of three coaches (John North, Dick Nolan and Bum Phillips), not on the coaching staff during the Hank Stram years of 1975-76.
McHan was elected to the UA Hall of Honor in 1993 and was on the Arkansas All-Century Team and All-Decade Team of the 50’s. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
McHan died at age 65 in Jefferson, La., a suburb west of New Orleans, of a heart attack in 1998. He is buried at Garden of Memories in Metairie.