Arkansas track coach hires his brother as assistant

Lawrence "Boogie" Johnson, a former head coach at Clemson and Cal State-Northridge, has been hired as an assistant at Arkansas. (Photo courtesy CSUN Athletic Communications)

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas women’s track and field coach Chris Johnson has hired his older brother to be an assistant coach for the Razorbacks. 

Lawrence Johnson, 48, is a former head coach at Clemson. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas from 1999-2002.

He later served in assistant roles at Southern Illinois, Virginia Tech and Cal State-Northridge, where he coached five seasons from 2015-19, including two seasons as an interim head coach. 

Johnson also serves as the coach at Hurdle Mechanic, a top professional training group. 

"I think there are some rare things that happen in life, and this is one of those occurrences that is happening for us," Chris Johnson said in a release announcing the hire. "I’d like to thank [track administrator] Terry Prentice and [athletics director] Hunter Yurachek for allowing this vision to come to light. We’re anxious to get started."

Nicknamed “Boogie,” Johnson might be best known for his four seasons at Clemson, where he led his teams to six ACC championships between 2008-12. The Tigers had 48 individual conference champions, 5 NCAA champions and 3 Olympians during his time at Clemson. 

The Johnsons are widely regarded as a premier sprints and hurdles coaches. Boogie Johnson has worked with multiple Olympians and was named the U.S. Track & Field coach of the year in 2013 and 2019. 

“It’s a unique opportunity being able to hire someone of his caliber and expertise in terms of sprints, hurdles, and even jumps as well," Chris Johnson said. "He’s been Nike Coach of the Year twice with USATF and multiple-time region Coach of the Year in the collegiate ranks.

“That plethora of experience, the ability to connect with athletes, and to be able to come home, if you will. He went to school here and ran for Coach [John] McDonnell. He understands the system and tradition we have here at Arkansas.”

Chris Johnson, a five-time national assistant coach of the year in 12 seasons at Arkansas, is in his first year as the Razorbacks’ head coach. The 46-year-old replaced Lance Harter, who retired after 33 seasons in June. 

The Johnson brothers grew up northwest of Houston in Waller, Texas. 

“First and foremost, I’m super proud of Chris and what he’s been able to accomplish as a coach on that staff with Lance, Bryan [Compton], and the entire support staff, for a decade or so has been amazing,” Boogie Johnson said in a release. 

“I’m tremendously happy that he gets an opportunity to continue doing what he’s been doing while at Arkansas, but now in the head coaching capacity. I’m super grateful to Lance for seeing it through and passing the torch to Chris. I’m super excited for him as his brother, but more so as a coach, it’s so special to coach with him.”