Wednesday, January 10, 2018
By Nate Allen
Special to the News-Times
FAYETTEVILLE - New Arkansas Razorbacks football coach Chad Morris on Tuesday officially revealed his worst kept secrets about his hirings of defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, offensive staff and strength coach.
John Chavis, coordinating defenses the last 23 years in the SEC at Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M, and whose long speculated Arkansas hiring awaited ironing out terms of a contract extension granted before the 2017 season at Texas A&M, officially became Arkansas’ new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Chavis succeeds Paul Rhoads, now the defensive backfield coach at UCLA after coordinating the 2017 defense for former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.
From his staff at SMU where Morris head coached from 2015-2017, Morris officially named offensive coordinator /quarterbacks coach Joe Craddock, running backs coach/associate head coach Jeff Traylor, offensive line coach Dustin Fry and receivers coach Justin Stepp.
Though not officially named to the staff, all have been recruiting at Arkansas for Morris since he was named Arkansas’ head coach on Dec. 6.
Also from SMU, Morris hired strength coach Trumain Carroll to succeed Ben Herbert, now the strength coach at Michigan, also the new coaching home for former Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
Morris has not officially named the defensive assistants working with Chavis, but they are believed to be defensive backfield coach Ron Cooper, who was on Chavis’ defensive staff at Texas A&M, defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell and John Scott.
Caldwell was Arkansas’ defensive end coach in 2010 and 2011 under Bobby Petrino and 2012 under John L. Smith. He was also the Boise State defensive line coach since 2013, and he is very familiar with Chavis having served on his Tennessee defensive staffs from 1995-2008.
Scott, the former Texas Tech and NFL defensive line coach who coached Bielema’s Arkansas defensive line in 2017, was retained.
As coordinators, Chavis and Craddock carry the highest profiles of the assembled staffs.
A three-year Tennessee Volunteers letterman at nose guard and returning as defensive line coach in 1989 at Tennessee after coaching defensive lines and or coordinating defenses for nine years at Alabama A&M and Alabama State, Chavis, who also coached linebackers at Tennessee, became the Vols defensive coordinator in 1995 under coach Phil Fulmer, including a 1998 national championship season.
After Tennessee and Fulmer, who has returned as Tennessee’s athletic director, parted company, Chavis coordinated LSU’s defense from 2009 to 2014 under Les Miles and was named the 2011 Broyles Award winner as college football’s best assistant coach.
Chavis coordinated Texas A&M’s defense and coached the Aggies linebackers from 2015 through 2017.
“I’m excited to have coach Chavis as our defensive coordinator, which was a very important hire for our program,” Morris said Tuesday through a UA press release.
“It’s so important to play great defense in the SEC and coach Chavis brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and success in the league to the table.”
Chavis also was quoted in the release: “I’m excited for the opportunity to help coach Morris build the Arkansas program and join the great staff that he is putting together,” Chavis said.
“It’s a great time to be at the University of Arkansas and I can’t wait to get started on building a defense that our fans can be excited about.”
Under Morris as offensive coordinator and Dabo Swinney as head coach at Clemson, Craddock in 2012 worked in player development and as an offensive graduate assistant in 2013 and 2014 before accompanying Morris to SMU being elevated to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“Joe is one of the bright, young minds in all of college football,” Morris said.
“He worked underneath us at Clemson and was very instrumental in our success there.
“I took him with me to SMU and saw him grow both as a person and as a coordinator during the last three years.
“He has a great mind and feel for the game, and I’m excited to have him on our staff and what we bring to the table in our high-powered offense.”
Craddock was quoted: “I am extremely excited to be a Razorback. This is a great opportunity for me and my family. I’m honored to continue to serve alongside coach Morris and work with an incredible offensive staff," Craddock said.
“I can’t wait to develop relationships with our players and get to work on the field this spring.
“I look forward to recruiting elite talent to Fayetteville, developing our players, putting together an explosive offense, and competing in a league as competitive and strong as the SEC.”
At Gilmer (Texas) High School, Traylor played for Joe Black, a starter for Frank Broyles’ 1964 national champion Razorbacks, and became Gilmer’s coach after graduating from Stephen F. Austin University and won three state championships, including one undefeated (16-0) season.
Traylor joined Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns staff as running backs coach in 2015 and 2016 before becoming Morris’ associate head coach/running backs coach at SMU.
A graduate of Clemson as an All-ACC center, Fry was a Clemson graduate assistant offensive line coach during Morris’ offensive coordinating tenure and then was elevated to offensive line coach accompanying Morris from 2015 through 2017 at SMU.
Stepp, introduced to Morris as a 2011 Clemson graduate assistant, coached receivers at Appalachian State from 2012-2014 before joining Morris’ SMU staff in 2015.
Lunney, Arkansas’ quarterback from 1992-95 and a former high school offensive coordinator at Fort Smith Southside and Bentonville for his father, retired high school legend Barry Lunney Sr., on the college level had coached quarterbacks and receivers for three years at Tulsa and was co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for two years at San Jose State.
He coached tight ends for the entire 2013-2017 Bielema era, which included coaching 2015 Mackey Award winner Hunter Henry.
New Arkansas strength coach Carroll lettered four years at defensive end during his 2001-2005 career at Oklahoma State and was an OSU assistant strength coach from 2006-2008 before becoming head strength coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and South Carolina State.
He returned to Oklahoma State as assistant strength coach before joining Morris in 2015 for their three campaigns at SMU.
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