Arkansas hires Smith as WR coach


FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema completed his coaching staff on Thursday night, naming Michael Smith as his wide receivers coach.

Smith comes to the Razorbacks after a long career as an assistant on Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State. He replaces George McDonald, who left the Razorbacks earlier this week to accept the offensive coordinator’s job at Syracuse.

Bielema and Smith — a Kansas State alum and record-breaking receiver — worked on the same staff at Kansas State in 2002-03.

“During my two seasons at Kansas State, I learned that Michael Smith is one of the masters of the fundamentals of the game,” Bielema said in a news release Thursday night. “As a player, he was part of building the foundation at Kansas State and as a coach he played an instrumental part in one of the greatest turnarounds for a program in the history of college football. He has a proven track record of leading his student-athletes to reach their full potential. He is also a tremendous recruiter who has very strong ties in his hometown of New Orleans.”

Smith, 42, is regarded as a strong recruiter in addition to his work with receivers. He was named one of the Big 12’s top 10 recruiters by Rivals.com last year and had success bringing prospects from states like Texas and Louisiana to Kansas State.

Both areas have been vital to Arkansas’ recruiting efforts as well.

Smith has coached receivers at Kansas State the past four seasons, returning to his alma mater with Snyder for their second stint together at the program. The former two-time All-Big Eight selection was part of a program that reached the Fiesta Bowl in 2012, working closely with receivers Chris Harper and Tyler Lockett.

Smith coached running backs for nine seasons at Kansas State during his first stint under Snyder, working with top three career rushing leaders in school history (Darren Sproles, Eric Hickson and Mike Lawrence). Smith coached seven running backs who reached the NFL during those nine seasons (Sproles, Josh Scobey, David Allen, Rock Cartwright, Thomas Clayton, Joe Hall and Frank Murphy).

Smith also worked as an assistant at Arizona in 2007-08 and at Rice in 2006.

He slides onto an Arkansas offensive staff that includes coordinator Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman, running backs coach Joel Thomas and tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. Bielema’s defensive staff consists of defensive coordinator Chris Ash, defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, linebackers coach Randy Shannon and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson.

Salary figures for Lunney and Smith have not yet been available. The other seven assistants, however, are being paid $2.525 million annually by the Razorbacks.

“When I came to Arkansas, I said I wanted to assemble a staff second to none,” Bielema said in a news release. “The administration has shown tremendous support of that goal and Michael Smith completes the group in exciting fashion.

“Our staff is made up of individuals who have earned respect within the profession and should generate excitement for our program.”