FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said earlier this week he was close to hiring his new defensive line coach.
He made it official Wednesday evening.
Rory Segrest, who spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Samford and also spent five seasons in the NFL, is joining Arkansas’ staff as the defensive line and specialists coach. Bielema announced the hire in a news release.
“We had an exceptional pool of candidates and Rory’s name kept coming to the top in every category as I went through the search process,” Bielema said in the news release. “I took notice of his coaching abilities when we prepared to play Samford this past season and they were excellent on special teams.
“All of the coaches I visited with about him spoke very highly about his abilities, including (Kansas City Chiefs coach) Andy Reid. Rory brings championship experience at both the NFL and collegiate levels to our program.”
Segrest replaces Charlie Partridge, who left the Razorbacks to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic last month. He joins the Arkansas staff after the third year of his second stint at Samford. Segrest also worked for the program from 2002-05, when he was the defensive line coach, special teams and recruiting coordinator.
Segrest worked with the Philadelphia Eagles for five seasons before being relieved of duties after the 2010 season. He was Reid’s quality control/assistant defensive line coach (2006-07), special teams coordinator (2007-09) and defensive line coach (2009-10). The Eagles won two NFC East championships (2006 and 2010) and reached the NFC Championship game (2008) during his tenure.
The 40-year-old Segrest also worked at Southeast Missouri State (1999-2001) and had graduate assistant roles at Auburn (1997-99) and Alabama (1996). He began his coaching career as a student assistant with the Crimson Tide (1994-95).
Segrest played for Gene Stallings at Alabama from 1992-95 and was a member of the Crimson Tide’s 1992 national championship team. He is from Waycross, Ga.
Bielema said Monday he had a “great pool” of candidates to work from on his list of coaching candidates, estimating he spoke to more than 15 coaches. Segrest was an unexpected choice. He has not worked with any of Arkansas’ current defensive assistants, but did coach against the Razorbacks during a 31-21 loss on Sept. 7.
Segrest fills two needs for the Razorbacks after Partridge’s departure, working with the defensive line and specialists. Bielema said Monday he was deciding whether to choose a coach with those credentials or hand special teams duties to others.
Philadelphia’s special teams unit finished third in the NFL in field goals under Segrest’s watch in 2008, while Pro Bowl kicker David Akers broke franchise records with 33 field goals and 144 points. Philadelphia punter Sav Rocca also set a franchise record with a net punt average of 37.9 that season.
Segrest’s 2009 and 2010 defensive linemen ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the NFL in sacks. They also were third (2010) and ninth (2009), respectively, in tackles for a loss by defensive linemen in 2010. He coached two Pro Bowl players in Trent Cole (2009, 2010) and Broderick Bunkley (2009)
At Arkansas, Segrest will work with a young defensive line replacing outgoing seniors Chris Smith, Robert Thomas and Byran Jones. But the group received some good news earlier this week when Trey Flowers announced he would return to Arkansas for his senior season. Flowers was asked about losing Partridge, but said he wouldn’t have any trouble working with a new position coach.
“In high school I had like four different coaches in all my four years,” Flowers said. “So adapting to a different scheme, a different style of coaching is just something to learn, something new. I feel like that’s an advantage on me, because you know even if I did go to the league or when I go to the league next year, I’ll have to adapt to a different coaching staff.”