Six assistant football coaches tweet UA stint at end

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, December 9, 2017
Michael Smith, Arkansas wide receivers coach, watches a replay in the second quarter against New Mexico State Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Michael Smith, Arkansas wide receivers coach, watches a replay in the second quarter against New Mexico State Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Six assistant football coaches for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville have posted farewell messages on their Twitter accounts, a clear indication they won't be retained by new Razorbacks Coach Chad Morris.

The departing assistants are defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, along with position coaches Michael Smith (wide receivers), Reggie Mitchell (running backs), Kurt Anderson (offensive line), Vernon Hargreaves (inside linebackers) and Chad Walker (outside linebackers).

Barry Lunney Jr., a Fort Smith native and former Arkansas quarterback who has been the Razorbacks' tight ends coach since 2013, was on the road recruiting Friday.

There was no word Friday night on the status of Razorbacks offensive coordinator Dan Enos and defensive line coach John Scott.

Rhoads, a former head coach at Iowa State, came to Arkansas for the 2016 season as defensive backs coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator this season.

"A very heartfelt thank you to all the players I had the opportunity to coach and be associated with while at the University of Arkansas -- you are tremendous young men and I wish you much success in all life has to offer," Rhoads tweeted. "And to the Razorback fans a great big WPS!"

Morris, introduced as Arkansas' coach Thursday after coaching SMU the previous three seasons, said he will hire "the best defensive coordinator in all of football. That's our standard."

No names have been reported to be in the running as the Razorbacks' next defensive coordinator.

"Some of them I've had to play against, and be around, watch. Admired from afar," Morris said of his short list. "So we've got a great plan for that."

Morris said Thursday he will announce his coaching staff in the near future. Arkansas officials did not confirm any firings from this season's coaching staff.

Members of Morris' staff at SMU who attended Thursday's news conference included offensive coordinator Joe Craddock; offensive line coach Dustin Fry; receivers coach Justin Stepp and his wife Brooke, who is director of recruiting operations; director of football operations Randy Ross; and recruiting coordinator Mark Smith. SMU running backs coach Jeff Traylor, who is serving as the Mustangs' interim head coach for the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20, also was in attendance.

Smith already has a Twitter account with the Razorbacks and tweeted about recruiting in Dallas on Friday.

Connor Noland, a standout quarterback and pitcher at Greenwood who has committed to play football and baseball for the Razorbacks, tweeted Friday he was very excited to meet Morris and Craddock on Thursday. He also thanked Lunney "for all you do."

Shiloh Christian Coach Jeff Conaway tweeted on Friday to thank Bobby Allen -- a longtime Arkansas assistant coach who under Bielema transitioned to an administrative role as director of high school relations -- for making a recruiting stop for the Razorbacks.

Smith came to Arkansas from Kansas State and was with the Razorbacks during all five seasons with Bielema, who was fired after a 48-45 loss to Missouri on Nov. 24 ended the Razorbacks season at 4-8.

Smith, a New Orleans native, signed numerous players from Louisiana, including several who became starters.

"It's been a great 5 years here at the U of A!" Smith tweeted. "I'd like to thank all those who have loved and supported me and my family! I want to wish the Hogs great success in the future. And to my guys (Wideouts), remember to Represent Each Other, Represent The Team, and Represent You! WPS!!!"

Hargreaves coached at Arkansas for three seasons after arriving from the University of Houston.

"Three great years on the Hill!! #woopig!! Thanks Hogs!" he tweeted.

Mitchell and Anderson were Razorbacks assistants the past two seasons. Mitchell came to Arkansas from Kansas. Anderson was an assistant offensive line coach for the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

"It's been a great two years on The Hill!" Mitchell tweeted. "Thank you to everyone who made it a special time. A special thank you to the RBs for everything y'all have done. It was a pleasure to coach y'all."

Anderson's tweet also was positive and upbeat.

"Coaching you men at Arkansas was an absolute joy," he tweeted. "The Sacrifice, The Preparation, The Love y'all gave, Thank You! My hope is that the lessons I taught you will allow you to become better Husbands, Fathers, Men some day! Only your best is good enough! Beutimus Maximus."

Walker coached at Arkansas for only one season, coming from the NFL's Atlanta Falcons where he was a defensive assistant. He previously had coached against the Razorbacks when he worked at LSU.

"Really neat experience being part of a Hog call instead of playing against it," Walker tweeted. "So grateful for all of the friends & relationships we have built in this community. Special thanks to all of my OLBs -- Live your dreams-Empty the bucket when the time is right. Best of luck. #LLTB #WPS."

Brey Cook, who played at Springdale Har-Ber and was a starting offensive lineman for the Razorbacks and a graduate assistant the past two seasons, also tweeted he is leaving the program.

"Thanks to everyone that made Arkansas home for the last 7 years," Cook tweeted. "To the players, it's been a pleasure playing alongside and coaching you. Be respectful, buy in, and Don't suck. Until next time Fayetteville."

Sports on 12/09/2017

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