Arkansas officially announced that linebackers coach Reggie Johnson will follow former Hog offensive coordinator Garrick McGee to Alabama-Birmingham to become the school's new defensive coordinator.
In addition, McGee has hired UA graduate assistants Richard Owens and Brandon Sharpe. Owens has been the primary coach for Arkansas tight ends the past two seasons and Sharpe has been assisting with the defensive backs the last two years. A GA will typically stay with a team two years but also have the option of staying a third year.
"Any time someone has opportunity to take the next step in their career and do what they feel is right for their family it is a great thing for them. Reggie has been an assistant during each season I've been a collegiate head coach and I am grateful for his hard work," Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino said. "Richard Owens and Brandon Sharpe both played and coached for me and they are two young men who have bright futures ahead of them."
Johnson, a 1993 graduate of Louisville, has been with Arkansas the past four seasons and called plays for the defense in the 33-16 win over South Carolina in 2009 when former defensive coordinator Willy Robinson was ill.
"All three coaches are very familiar with the schemes and philosophies Coach McGee wants to incorporate. I am hopeful they are able to take the principles they helped to put in place here as they build the program the right way together in Birmingham. I wish them all nothing but success."
Johnson served as an assistant coach at Louisville from 1997 to 1998. He then coached inside linebackers and special teams for Alabama A&M until 2000. From there he coached defensive ends and linebackers at UTEP until 2002. He was with Petrino at Louisville from 2003-2006 and was retained when Petrino left in 2007. In 2008 he rejoined Petrino, this time at Arkansas.
Johnson has experience recruiting Alabama and surrounding areas, so his familiarity with high school programs in the region could be a bonus. Arkansas on the other hand has three linebacker prospects scheduled to take official visits to Fayetteville this weekend.
This move has been in the works but is just now being made official. There are a lot of hires made each year following the American Football Coaches Association Convention, which wrapped up on Jan. 11 after four days. Odds are Arkansas already has a replacement linebackers coach in mind.