Arkansas Football:

More than half staff: Chavis, several other hirings become official for Razorbacks

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis talks with Texas A&M linebacker Keeath Magee II (56) before the start of an NCAA college football game against Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Photo by Associated Press
Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis talks with Texas A&M linebacker Keeath Magee II (56) before the start of an NCAA college football game against Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks announced the hiring of veteran defensive coordinator John Chavis on Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation that the longtime SEC assistant coach would lead the defense for first-year Coach Chad Morris.

Chavis, 61, has spent the past 23 years as a defensive coordinator in the SEC, including the past three at Texas A&M. He coordinated the defense for Tennessee's national championship team in 1998 under Phillip Fulmer in the first year of the Bowl Championship Series, and also coordinated the defense on the LSU staff under Les Miles in 2011 that lost the national title game to Alabama.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville also confirmed Joe Craddock, 32, would serve as offensive coordinator as part of the group of former SMU assistant coaches who followed Morris from Dallas and who have been recruiting for the Razorbacks since Morris was hired Dec. 6.

Chavis and Craddock will hold separate news conferences this morning at the Fred Smith Football Center after a Morris media session.

The Razorbacks also announced the hiring of strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll, who had the same duties at SMU under Morris. Carroll's inclusion on the Arkansas staff also had been expected.

The UA also confirmed offensive assistant coaches Jeff Traylor, Dustin Fry, Barry Lunney Jr. and Justin Stepp. Traylor will hold the titles of associate head coach and running backs coach; Fry will be offensive line coach and run-game coordinator; Lunney, a five-year Arkansas assistant under Bret Bielema, will retain his role as tight ends coach; and Stepp will handle the wide receivers. All four had signed temporary contracts to handle recruiting in the month of December.

No defensive assistant coaching hirings were announced Tuesday, but former Arkansas defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell is expected to rejoin Chavis, with whom he worked for 14 years at Tennessee. Ron Cooper, who was defensive backs coach at Texas A&M last season, has been reported as likely to join the UA staff by John Scott Jr., who served his first year on the Arkansas staff last season as defensive line coach, is believed to be in line for joining Morris' staff. His Twitter account still describes himself as "Defensive Line coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks."

FBS schools could hire a 10th full-time assistant coach for the first time beginning Tuesday, after legislation approved by the NCAA to add the extra coach.

Chavis, a former defensive lineman and 1978 Tennessee graduate, also will coach the linebackers for the Razorbacks. He has been a defensive coordinator at Tennessee (1995-2008), LSU (2009-2014) and Texas A&M (2015-2017) and won the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country after LSU's SEC title run in 2011.

"I'm excited to have Coach Chavis as our defensive coordinator, which was a very important hire for our program," Morris said in news 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 was the nation's third-highest paid coordinator in 2017 at $1.6 million per season.

"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 in a statement. "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."

Teams for which Chavis has coached have posted a record of 214-80 (.728) during his 23 seasons as defensive coordinator, including a mark of 129-60 (.683) in SEC games. His defenses have posted 14 shutouts and 52 games in which the opponent scored 10 points or less.

Chavis-coordinated defenses have ranked among the top four in the SEC in total defense in 15 of his 23 seasons.

Texas A&M was one of five FBS programs to rank in the top 25 in sacks in each of the past three seasons, punctuated by an SEC-best 43 in 2017.

LSU finished in the top 15 in total defense in the last five of his six seasons with the Tigers.

Chavis has coached 81 players who have been taken in the NFL Draft during his career, including 15 first-round picks such as former Texas A&M star Myles Garrett, the first pick of the 2017 draft.

Craddock, a native of Chelsea, Ala., has been a Morris protege since taking a position as player development coach at Clemson in 2012. He advanced to offensive graduate assistant with the Tigers (2013-2014) before following Morris to SMU the next season.

The Mustangs ranked No. 8 in the FBS in scoring this season with 40.2 points per game, No. 13 in total offense with 493.8 yards per game and No. 16 in passing (308.0). The Mustangs featured 3,000-yard passer Ben Hicks, 1,000-yard receivers Courtland Sutton and Trey Quinn, and 1,000-yard running back Xavier Jones this year, as well as 1,000-yard rusher Braeden West in 2016.

Carroll, 35, is a native of Houston and a graduate of Oklahoma State, where he played defensive end from 2001-2005. He has been head strength and conditioning coach at Missouri-Kansas City (2008-2011), South Carolina State (2011-2012) and SMU (2015-17), and an assistant in that department at Oklahoma State in two stints.

"Trumain transformed our student-athletes at SMU and the success we saw on and off the field was a direct reflection of the culture he helped establish," Morris said in a statement.


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