FAYETTEVILLE - Although Jeff Craddock, Dustin Fry, Justin Stepp, and Jeff Traylor, respectively the offensive coordinator offensive line coach, receivers coach and running backs coach at SMU for Chad Morris, have assisted Arkansas’ recruiting efforts since Morris became the Razorbacks’ coach on Dec. 6, none yet have been announced on Morris’ new Arkansas staff.
Nor have Barry Lunney, the tight ends coach under previous Coach Bret Bielema, or Bobby Allen, an Arkansas defensive coach from 1998-2012 and Bielema’s director of high school relations since 2013, even as they recruit including working on the seven signed in Wednesday’s start of the 3-day December early signing period.
Mark Smith, previously SMU’s recruiting coordinator under Morris, and Randy Ross, SMU’s director of operations under Morris, also have working in Fayetteville since Morris came to Arkansas but also have not been officially announced on Arkansas’ staff.
However with a defensive coordinator and defensive staff still to be hired and a 10th fulltime available in January to the previous 9-man staffs as the NCAA maximum,, Morris isn’t officially announcing anybody employed at a specific staff position.
Morris spoke to media about other matters Wednesday while announcing quarterback Connor Noland, 6-3, 205, of Greenwood, inside linebacker Bumper Pool, 6-2, 213, of Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas, defensive linemen Billy Ferrell, 6-3, 331, of Fordyce and Isaiah Nichols, 6-4, 275, of Springdale, offensive lineman Silas Robinson, 6-4, 300, of Yoakum, Texas and receiver Michael Woods, 6-2, 180 of Magnolia, Texas signed Arkansas letters of intent.
“As far as the guys joining me from the SMU staff, there will be a time we introduce the entire University of Arkansas coaching staff,” Morris said. “I’m not prepared to say who’s coaching what at this time, but there will be a time in the very near future we’ll do that. “The 10th assistant is kind of two-fold in that it’ll be a guy that will come on… I would like for that to be a five and five offense and defense, but have some heavy special teams duties involved as well.”
Lunney and Allen also appear in Morris’ permanent staff plans but their future roles also have not been announced.
The defensive coordinator and defensive staff and strength coach, expected to be SMU strength coach Trumain Carroll since SMU completed its season losing to Louisiana Tech in Wednesday night’s Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, are the key hires left for Morris to fulfill.
Morris called the strength coach and defensive coordinator hires “1 and 1A” in order of importance.
Morris was asked the level of interest he’s received regarding the defensive coordinator’s job.
“If I had my phone with me I'd show you all the number of phone calls and text messages,” Morris said. “But it's quite a bit. This is definitely one that I've had to take a few pages of notes on of taking names down and talking to guys. That's what I've done over the last few weeks as well, and also trying to recruit.”
Some surprises from coaches he didn’t think would be interested?
“Yeah! Morris replied. “You know there's a few here and there. A lot of guys I've just reached out and some guys that I've reached out to either playing against or coaching against or seeing from afar and watching on film and like kind of what they do. Just seeing is there an interest and gauging interest and sometimes there is. Sometimes there is and it turns out they're not. But it's been really productive and I'm really excited about it.”