FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Taver Johnson, who joined the Arkansas football program in January of 2012, has been named cornerbacks coach for the Razorbacks, UA head coach Bret Bielema announced Wednesday.
Johnson was named Assistant Head Coach and guided the linebackers in 2012 after coming from Ohio State where he spent five seasons as cornerbacks coach before being retained following the Buckeyes' coaching staff change in December of 2011. In his first spring practice in Fayetteville, Johnson handled all of the administrative duties of the head coach while leading the Razorback football program over the final two weeks.
"I am thrilled Taver Johnson will remain a member of the coaching staff at Arkansas as he will provide stability for our student-athletes," said Bielema. "Taver spent five years in a championship culture prior to coming to Fayetteville, and his tremendous abilities as a leader were seen by the entire nation during the spring and throughout the 2012 season. His coaching style is extremely enthusiastic and he has always shown an incredible commitment to the development of student-athletes."
Johnson tutored the youngest position group on Arkansas' roster in 2012 as true freshmen A.J. Turner and Otha Peters each made multiple starts for the Razorbacks and five different players started at linebacker throughout the season. Senior captains Alonzo Highsmith and Tenarius Wright each suffered season-ending injuries in October, with Highsmith tied for second in the SEC and 23rd in the NCAA in tackles when he was hurt. Turner made six starts and finished fifth on the team with 53 tackles, while Peters started three games and recorded 32 tackles with two quarterback hurries. The Razorbacks ranked fifth in the SEC and 20th in the NCAA in rush defense and fifth in the conference and 24th in the nation in red zone defense.
During his five seasons in Columbus, Ohio State put together a record of 50-15 that included four straight Big Ten titles and BCS appearances. Johnson helped produce 2008 Jim Thorpe Award winner Malcolm Jenkins, who was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer. The Buckeyes had three cornerbacks selected in the NFL Drafts between 2008-12, led by Jenkins as the 14th overall pick by New Orleans in 2009. Ohio State had three different cornerbacks earn four first-team All-Big Ten honors under Johnson.
In 2011, the Buckeyes ranked fourth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and fifth in the conference in pass defense. Ohio State also ranked in the top 30 in the NCAA in total defense and scoring defense.
In 2010, Ohio State finished the season with a 12-1 record and a victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Buckeye defense led the Big Ten and ranked second in the NCAA in total defense by allowing 250.6 yards per game and topped the conference and ranked third in the country with an average of 13.3 points per game allowed. They also led the Big Ten while tying for third in the country in turnover margin, and ranked fourth in the nation in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and pass defense.
In 2009, the Buckeyes were 11-2 and defeated Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State allowed just 262.5 yards per game, first in the Big Ten and fifth in the NCAA, and 12.2 points per game, second in the conference and fifth in the country while also ranking number one in the Big Ten and fifth in the NCAA by allowing 83.4 rushing yards per game. Ohio State also was second in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation in pass efficiency defense and second in the conference and 17th in the nation in pass defense.
Jenkins brought the Thorpe Award to Columbus as the nation's best defensive back in 2008. He recorded 57 tackles, three interceptions and three forced fumbles while leading the Buckeye secondary that held opponents to 164.3 passing yards per game, first in the Big Ten and eighth in the NCAA. Ohio State ranked in the top 20 in the country and top three in the conference in rushing defense, scoring defense, total defense and pass efficiency defense.
In 2007, the Buckeyes played in the BCS National Championship Game and led the country in total defense, allowing 233.0 yards per game, scoring defense, giving up just 12.7 points per game, and in pass defense, as opponents passed for 150.2 yards per game. Ohio State also led the Big Ten in rushing defense, allowing 82.9 yards per game to rank third in the country, and in pass efficiency defense with a mark of 98.73, which was fourth in the nation.
Johnson served as special teams coach with the Cleveland Browns in 2004. He was the linebackers coach at Miami (Ohio) from 2000-03. During that time he produced four first-team All-MAC selections, including two-time honoree Terrell Jones, who finished his career among the top 10 tacklers in program history. Johnson also was responsible for grooming two-time All-MAC linebackers and NFL signees Terna Nande and John Busing. From 2005-06, he was the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator for the RedHawks and in his first year back the unit forced 35 turnovers, ranking fourth nationally. The defense also ranked among the MAC's top three teams in both scoring and rushing defense. In 2006, Miami (Ohio) grabbed 14 interceptions while forcing 22 turnovers. The RedHawks had six defensive players named All-MAC during the 2005 and 2006 seasons
He was a graduate assistant in 1999 at Notre Dame where his responsibilities were on the defensive side of the ball in addition to working with the Irish defensive scout team.
Johnson spent the 1998 season as the defensive coordinator at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill. His defense ranked first in scoring defense (14.1 points per game) in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and was ranked second in total defense. Johnson coordinated all recruiting activities at Millikin and was also involved in practice organization, game planning and film breakdown.
In 1997, Johnson was the linebacker coach at Millikin after serving as the strength and conditioning coordinator at Millikin. During the 1996 season, he also was the director of the Fitness and Wellness Center at the school. He spent the 1994 and 1995 seasons as the defensive line coach at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.
Johnson is a native of Cincinnati and a high school graduate of Cincinnati Academy of Physical Education (C.A.P.E.) After an outstanding high school career, he went on to play three years of football at Wittenberg, where he was a two-time All-American and the North Coast Athletics Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993.
Johnson and his wife Sharday, a Toledo marketing graduate who ran track for the Rockets, have a son, Tyree and a daughter, Brooklynn.
Taver Johnson Coaching History
Jan. 2013 Arkansas (Cornerbacks)
2012 Arkansas (Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers)
2007-2011 Ohio State (Cornerbacks)
2005-06 Miami (Ohio) (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator)
2004 Cleveland Browns (Special Teams)
2000-03 Miami (Ohio) (Linebackers)
1999 Notre Dame (Graduate Assistant)
1996-98 Millikin (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
1994-95 Wittenberg (Defensive Line)
Birthdate: July 8, 1972
Home Town: Cincinnati, Ohio
Family: Wife, Sharday; Son, Tyree; Daughter, Brooklynn
Bowl Games: Gator Bowl, 2012; Sugar Bowl, 2011; Rose Bowl, 2010; Fiesta Bowl, 2009; BCS National Championship, 2008; GMAC Bowl, 2003