The Recruiting Guy

Coaching clinic in Hot Springs will draw notable speakers

Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom talks to an official on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 before a football game at Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

More than 1,000 high school coaches from Arkansas and the region are expected to attend the 13th annual Arkansas Football Coaches Association Ronnie Roach Coaching Clinic in Hot Springs that runs today to Sunday.

University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman and his staff will be on hand to continue to building on the relationships with high school coaches in Arkansas and bordering states.

Pittman and his assistants visited numerous schools in the state during the December and January contact periods.

“They’ve done a good job going around the state,” said Little Rock Hall Coach Jim Withrow, the Arkansas Football Coaches Association president. “This will only make it even better in building stronger relationships. These guys are very good with the high school coaches and very open to them. The Arkansas Football Coaches Association is very much behind Coach Pittman and the Razorbacks.”

Pittman and his staff attended the last clinic in 2020 before the covid-19 pandemic forced last year’s clinic to be a virtual event.

Pittman will be the keynote speaker Friday night. Baylor defensive coordinator Ron Roberts and Madison (Miss.) Ridgeland Academy receivers coach John Weaver will also speak Friday night.

Arkansas coordinators Barry Odom and Kendal Briles will speak Saturday morning.

Former Arkansas and current Missouri State Coach Bobby Petrino, Colorado State offensive line coach Bill Best and Arkansas State Coach Butch Jones will speak Saturday night.

All in-state colleges are expected to have coaches at the event.

Withrow credits former Ft. Smith Southside coach and current Siloam Springs Athletic Director Jeff Williams for scheduling speakers, while also praising Episcopal Collegiate Coach Michael Carter for his contributions.

Clinic director Danny McCuin has headed up the event since its inception.

“Danny is kind of the ring leader of all of it,” Withrow said. “We have good people on our board right now and with [Jonesboro Coach] Randy Coleman coming in as the president next year.”

The idea of the clinic came from a 2010 brainstorming session in then-North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding’s office. He’s now at Little Rock Parkview. He was joined by his brother and White Hall Athletic Director Bobby Bolding, who was the coach at Pine Bluff at the time.

Others in the meeting were McCuin, former Stuttgart coach and current West Memphis Athletic Director Billy Elmore, former Springdale coach Shane Patrick and former Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley, now the offensive coordinator at Springdale.

The first clinic drew about 125 coaches and the numbers have steadily increased each year since.

“It’s amazing how much the clinic has grown,” Withrow said.

Carter — along with other state championship coaches Anthony Lucas of Pulaski Academy, Joe T. Robinson’s Todd Eskola, Bryant’s Buck James, El Dorado’s Steven Jones and Neil Evens of Handing Academy — will speak Friday.

The clinic is opportunity for coaches to exchange ideas while promoting the game.

“We’re bringing in some assistant coaches from across the state on Saturday morning and they’re going to share some of the best drills they like. It kind of gives you an idea of what other people are doing,” Withrow said. “The emphasis with everyone is how can we grow the game. What can we as coaches do to make it a better game here in Arkansas.”