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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Pittman Completes Hogs Football Coaching Staff

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For new Arkansas head football coach Sam Pittman, the first of two major and immediate tasks he was faced with after being named head coach was to recruit players before the early and February national signing dates, and to put together a coaching staff. One of those tasks is now complete with the announcement of the final four position coaches that will be part of his on-field staff. The Razorbacks sports information and communications department has announced that new assistants Jon Cooper, Scott Fountain, Derrick LeBlanc and Jimmy Smith will now join offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and defensive coordinator Barry Odom on Pittman’s staff.

Cooper will coach tight ends for the Hogs after serving in the same capacity at Central Florida for the last two years. At UCF, the Knights 2019 offense finished the regular season in the top 10 nationally in total offense. Prior to UCF, Cooper spent two seasons as an offensive analyst for then-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel at Missouri. The Tigers offense exploded to lead the Southeastern Conference in yards per game in 2017 and points per game, while ranking second in passing yards. Prior to Missouri, Cooper was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Oklahoma, where the program defeated Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. He played four seasons in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and the Tennessee Titans.

Fountain comes to Arkansas as the special teams coach after spending 2019 at Georgia in the same capacity. Georgia saw immediate improvement with Fountain as special teams coach, led by kicker Rodrigo Blakenship. Punter Jake Camarda improved in 2019, upping his average to 46.8 yards per punt to rank sixth nationally. Prior to Georgia, Fountain spent eight years at Auburn as player personnel director and as tight ends and special teams coach. Fountain has coached in four national championship games (1997, 2010, 2013, and 2017).

LeBlanc brings SEC experience from LSU and Kentucky and ties to the state of Arkansas having coached at Henderson State and Arkansas Tech. He will coach the defensive line at Arkansas. At Kentucky, he helped build the Wildcats into a solid program, going to three straight bowl games. Kentucky was 25-14 over the three seasons he was on the Kentucky staff. LeBlanc begain coaching in college as a graduate assistant at LSU. He assisted then-defensive line coach Pete Jenkins as well as assisting the strength and conditioning staff.

Smith will coach the Arkansas running backs after spending last season as the running backs coach at Georgia State. The Panthers featured one of the best running attacks in the Sun Belt Conference led by first team All-Sun Belt running back Tra Barnett, who led the league and ranked 11th nationally. The Panthers running attack was ranked 13th nationally.

Pittman’s on-field coaching staff is now complete with the four joining the offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and defensive coordinator Barry Odom, as well as offensive line coach Brad Davis, wide receivers coach Justin Stepp who was retained from Chad Morris’s staff, linebackers coach Rion Rhoades, and cornerbacks coach Sam Carter.

The new staff brings to Arkansas a track record of success both inside and outside of the Southeastern Conference. The next step for Coach Pittman and his new staff will be to gain as many committments as possible from targeted recruits for the upcoming February national signing day for college football players. How much the staff can improve the quality and rating of the 2020 signing class will be the first indicator of the success of the new coaching staff.

As Razorbacks fans, let’s hope the new assistants will have similar recruiting success to that of their head coach, Sam Pittman.

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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  1. Thanks for the article giving us an overview of the new Razorback football coaching staff. It was very interesting and I appreciate the summary of background for each coach helping us to get acquainted with them.