Morris finalizes coaching staff with hiring of defensive assistants

By: Matt Jones
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Boise State defensive line coach Steve Caldwell talks with his players during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Boise State won 37-27. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
Boise State defensive line coach Steve Caldwell talks with his players during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Boise State won 37-27. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

— First-year Arkansas football coach Chad Morris finalized his coaching staff Wednesday by hiring four defensive assistants.

Morris hired Steve Caldwell and John Scott Jr. to coach the Razorbacks' defensive line, and Ron Cooper and Mark Smith to coach defensive backs. Arkansas confirmed the hiring of defensive coordinator John Chavis on Tuesday. Chavis also will coach linebackers.

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Caldwell and Scott have previously worked at Arkansas. Caldwell was defensive ends coach from 2010-12 under Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith. He has since worked one season at Arkansas State and the previous four seasons at Boise State.

From 1995-2008, Caldwell coached the defensive line at Tennessee under Chavis, who was coordinator for the Volunteers for 14 seasons.

Scott is one of two holdovers from Bret Bielema's 2017 coaching staff, along with tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. Scott was one of eight assistants who were fired shortly after Morris was hired as head coach last month, but had been considered a candidate to come back on staff in recent weeks.

Cooper spent 11 seasons as a head coach in the 1990s and early 2000s, including three seasons at Louisville. He was defensive backs coach on Chavis' defensive staff at Texas A&M in 2017.

Smith, a former high school head coach in the Fort Worth, Texas, area, has spent the past three seasons as a recruiting coordinator for Morris at SMU. In 2017, Smith added defensive analyst to his title with the Mustangs.

In addition to Chavis, Arkansas confirmed the hirings of offensive coordinator Joe Craddock, running backs coach Jeff Traylor, offensive line coach Dustin Fry and receivers coach Justin Stepp on Tuesday. Craddock, Traylor, Fry and Stepp all coached under Morris for at least one season at SMU.

Contracts, including salary information, has yet to be released for any of the assistant coaches.

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