Report: Johnson leaving Arkansas for Purdue position


FAYETTEVILLE — The overhaul of Arkansas’ defensive staff isn’t over.

Taver Johnson, who coached Arkansas’ cornerbacks last season and has been part of the Razorbacks’ defensive staff for two seasons, has accepted a position at Purdue, according to CoachingSearch.com.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema declined comment through an athletic department spokesperson Wednesday night. Purdue has not announced Johnson’s hire.

Bielema was asked about Johnson’s status earlier this week while introducing new defensive coordinator and secondary coach Robb Smith. He said Smith would coach the entire secondary, leaving uncertainty about Johnson’s future staff duties.

“Taver worked with the corners last year, but I wanted to bring that room together,” Bielema said Monday. “So, it will definitely be a transition for those guys. But on the same account, Taver can work with all four secondary positions as well as the possibility of a nickel position. As the season progressed last year, the one thing I really wanted to make sure, and you’ve heard me and Robb now say it several times, communication needs to be cleaner, and I think it’s more important for us to have a secondary that’s together, a group of linebackers that’s together, a D-line that’s together, and how those three groups work together is really, really important.”

Johnson could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The departure would reunite Johnson with Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, who is preparing for his second season with the program. Johnson and Hazell worked together as assistants at Ohio State from 2007-10. Hazell had an opening on his defensive staff after Jon Heacock, who was the program’s secondary coach, left to become the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Toledo.

Johnson left Ohio State after the 2011 season to join former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino’s defensive staff. He served as the program’s interim coach after Petrino was fired in April 2012, working in the role until John L. Smith was hired.

Johnson coached Arkansas’ linebackers in 2012 and cornerbacks in 2013.

He’ll become the third defensive assistant to leave Bielema’s staff after the 2013 season. Defensive line coach Charlie Partridge led the Razorbacks to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic in December. Defensive coordinator Chris Ash left to become the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State last month.

It leaves linebackers coach Randy Shannon as the only 2013 defensive assistant still on Bielema’s staff this winter. Shannon was promoted to senior associate head coach and will work with Robb Smith and new defensive line coach Rory Segrest.