Where are they now?

Morris’ UA staff scattered across nation

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Saturday, July 11, 2020
Arkansas defensive assistant coach Mark Smith catches a football during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas defensive assistant coach Mark Smith catches a football during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former University of Arkansas cornerbacks coach Mark Smith was announced this week as the new defensive coordinator at Long Island (N.Y.) University.

The Sharks went 0-10 in their first season as an NCAA Division I member in 2019, competing in the Northeast Conference under Coach Bryan Collins.

Smith became the fifth assistant coach of the ill-fated Chad Morris regime at Arkansas to land a coaching job since the staff broke up in December.

First-year Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman retained just one Morris assistant, as wide receivers coach Justin Stepp stayed aboard last December. Stepp, known as a relentless recruiter, played a key role in the Razorbacks landing the wide receiver group of Treylon Burks, Trey Knox, Shamar Nash and TQ Jackson in their No. 23-rated signing class of 2019.

Morris was fired with a 4-18 record after a 45-19 home loss to Western Kentucky last November with two games remaining in his second season with the Razorbacks.

Morris landed as offensive coordinator at Auburn for his long-time friend Gus Malzahn.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis, 63, has not been announced in any new coaching role since the staff was notified it wasn't being retained last Dec. 5. Chavis had another year remaining on his contract for which he was to be paid approximately $1.12 million through the end of February 2021.

His wife Diane recently touted on social media that the John Chavis Golf Classic, scheduled for July 17 in Lenoir, Tenn., will still be held. The event raises money for the Tennessee Children's Home in Karns, Tenn., a favorite charity of the Chavis family.

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock has been hired as tight ends coach at Alabama-Birmingham near his hometown of Chelsea, Ala., by Coach Bill Clark. Craddock had another year remaining on his contract at Arkansas. Based on the language in his contract, Craddock will receive about $337,000 through next February, offset by his salary with the Blazers.

Defensive tackles coach Kenny Ingram, hired on a two-year deal prior to the 2019 season to replace the departed John Scott, was the only other assistant coach with an additional year under contract to Arkansas. He was owed about $191,250 for the remaining time on his contract, roughly 15 months, upon his firing.

Running backs coach Jeff Traylor had probably the most successful transition of any 2019 Arkansas assistant, scoring the head coaching job at Texas-San Antonio in his home state. Traylor is a coaching legend in the Texas prep ranks, having won three state championships and two runner-up finishes in a 15-year stint at Gilmer High School.

Former Arkansas quarterback Barry Lunney Jr., who led the Razorbacks as interim coach in season-ending losses at LSU and against Missouri in Little Rock, is the associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with Traylor on the Roadrunners' staff.

Lunney Jr. interviewed for the head coaching position at Arkansas and felt he nailed the interview, according to sources. Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek picked Pittman, a former Razorback offensive line coach, to lead the program on Dec. 8.

Defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell, an Arkansas State graduate who has spent most of his coaching life in Tennessee and Arkansas, is back in the Volunteer State.

He was named assistant director of life skills and character development by Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer, for whom he served as defensive ends coach from 1995-2008, during the winter.

"Steve played a key role during an era of extraordinary success for Tennessee football," Fulmer said in a release announcing Caldwell's hiring in February.

In his new role, Caldwell will provide guidance to athletes in academics, athletics, life skills, personal and professional growth and social responsibilities.

"I'm excited about being back home at Tennessee," Caldwell said in the release. "We left here almost a dozen years ago, and it's always been a dream to come back. I am truly a Vol For Life."

Offensive line coach Dustin Fry has not been announced in any new coaching role, nor has defensive backs coach Ron Cooper or Ingram.

Ingram, who still lists Fayetteville as his place of residence, has maintained a social media presence by posting motivational and spiritual messages on what he calls "Truth Tuesday" on his Twitter account.

Cooper's last Twitter post was a retweet of Ingram dated June 23. He still lists Fayetteville as his place of residence.

Fry's last Twitter post came Oct. 4 when he retweeted a promotional item touting freshman receivers Treylon Burks and Trey Knox.

Former Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll took a similar position at the University of South Florida.


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