The upcoming spring practice period will be unlike any other in the Sam Pittman era.
In year four of the head football coach’s tenure at Arkansas, he will be navigating uncharted territory with six new coaches on his staff, including two coordinators.
Gone are defensive coordinator and associate head coach Barry Odom and linebackers coach Michael Scherer, who left to become the UNLV head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively. Offensive coordinator Kendall Briles and tight ends coach Dowell Loggains accepted OC jobs at TCU and South Carolina, respectively. Both coordinators had been at Arkansas since Pittman took over.
Additionally, the Razorbacks fired cornerbacks coach Dominique Bowman, who eventually took the same position at Temple, and director of strength and conditioning Jamil Walker, who was let go after losing the regular season finale to the Missouri Tigers, in which Pittman said the Razorbacks were “out-physicaled.”
Pittman filled Walker’s void with Ben Sowders, who spent last season as the Louisville director of strength and conditioning. He was on the Georgia strength staff during Pittman’s last two years with the Bulldogs.
“It was a no-brainer when (Pittman) gave me the opportunity to come, I knew I was coming,” Sowders said during his introductory press conference.
Upon Odom’s departure, Pittman landed defensive coordinator Travis Williams, who comes to Arkansas after two seasons in the same role at UCF. Last season, the Knights’ defense ranked in the top 40 nationally, allowing 23.2 points and 382.6 yards per game. Additionally, the unit was the fifth-best red zone defense in the country.
“I just heard so many great things about him from guys I knew that had called me,” Pittman said Dec. 19, 2022. “When I got in front of him, I can remember calling Hunter Yurachek and saying 'I found him.'”
Tight ends coach Morgan Turner replaced Loggains after turning Stanford into a destination of sorts for tight ends around the country — continually producing NFL players including Dalton Schultz, Austin Hooper and Coby Fleener.
“He's had seven guys drafted out there at Stanford, another one that went and played in the NFL,” Pittman said in December. “I felt like Stanford was Tight End U. I think they had that name out there. I think they deserve that, but we went out and got their coach because we'd like it to be this way at the University of Arkansas.”
Co-defensive coordinator Marcus Woodson, who was defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator at Florida State for the past two seasons, officially filled Scherer’s void Jan. 4. In 2022, the Florida State secondary was one of the nation’s best, ranking fourth in the FBS allowing 165.4 yards per game to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I thought he was the best defensive backs coach in America,” Pittman said Feb. 1. “I think what they did at Florida State proved that.”
Although Woodson carries the co-defensive coordinator title, his duties will primarily concern the defensive backs. Williams will call plays and assume Scherer’s responsibilities handling linebackers.
Offensive coordinator Dan Enos returns to Arkansas for a second stint after spending the past two seasons at Maryland. Last year, the Terrapins ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging 401.2 yards and 28.2 points per game.
Pittman highlighted Enos’ ability to adapt to offensive personnel, emphasizing his expertise with quarterbacks. In 2018, he coached future NFL stars Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts as the Alabama offensive coordinator, providing redshirt senior KJ Jefferson with a glimpse of what is possible under Enos’ guidance.
“The great ones I’ve coached and I’ve been around, there’s a lot of similar characteristics if you will, things they have in common,” Enos said Feb. 1. “KJ’s a guy, like Taulia (Tagovailoa) and like Jalen, is a very good passer and is very athletic.”
Secondary coach Deron Wilson, who spent last season at Florida, was hired to replace Bowman on Jan. 24. In his introductory press conference, Wilson said he spoke with his mentors after being offered the Arkansas position, one of which said Pittman will be “the best head coach you ever work for.”
Pittman called his new hires outstanding men and football coaches.
“I'm really honored that they chose the University of Arkansas to come coach with me,” Pittman said.
The spring period will begin March 9 and culminate with the annual spring Red vs. White scrimmage which will be held at noon Saturday, April 15 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
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