Last week the Arkansas football team lost yet another staff member when Taver Johnson left to take the defensive backs coaching position at Purdue. Johnson spent the last two seasons as the Razorback’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach.
Johnson and Purdue coach Darrell Hazell were on the same coaching staff at Ohio State for four years, from 2007-2011, and is a main reason as to why Johnson left. Regardless, Arkansas lost one of its main recruiters and left Bret Bielema with another hole to fill in his staff.
Today it was announced that former TCU defensive backs coach Clay Jennings has been hired at Arkansas at the same position. Jennings’ defense at TCU has led the nation in total defense for the past three years and has produced ten all-conference corners in his six years with the Horned Frogs.
The hire definitely fills the need of a good recruiter for the Hogs and is especially nice because of his crucial Texas ties. He has been widely known as the best recruiter on the TCU staff and one of the top assistants in the entire Big-12.
Jennings is from Waco, Texas and played his college ball at North Texas University where he also served as a graduate assistant in 1997. He has some Arkansas ties as he coached at Southern Arkansas University in 2000 before moving on to Sam Houston State, Louisana-Lafayette, where the Rajin’ Cajuns were 11th in the nation in pass defense, and then served as safeties coach at Houston from 2005-2006.
It was in 2007 when Jennings was lured back into his hometown of Waco to coach the cornerbacks at Baylor, but he only stayed for a year before leaving for the defensive backs coaching job at TCU.
“I’m thrilled to add Clay Jennings to our staff as his experience blends well with our defensive coaches’ philosophy and terminology,” coach Bielema said. “He was an instrumental part of a defensive unit at TCU known for giving an opposing offense a variety of looks while keeping schemes simple for their own players. In addition, his knowledge of the recruiting landscape in Texas will be a great benefit to our program.”
Just like new defensive coordinator Robb Smith, Jennings will have his work cut out for him here at Arkansas as the Hog’s secondary needs to have drastic improvement this season.
The hire seems to be an extremely good one for Bielema as Jennings brings 16 years of secondary coaching experience to the Hogs and has been coaching in the Lone Star State for more than a decade. He has coached six NFL cornerbacks and has an incredible reputation for recruiting which is exactly what this staff needs.
The Razorbacks lost a good one in Johnson, but may have got a great one in Jennings.