FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will retain Taver Johnson on his staff, it was announced Wednesday.
Johnson coached linebackers last year, but will coach the Arkansas cornerbacks in 2013. He took over the football program as interim coach following Bobby Petrino's motorcycle accident that put him on leave and led to his firing last April, but returned to linebackers coach full-time once John L. Smith was signed to a short-term head coaching contract.
“I am thrilled Taver Johnson will remain a member of the coaching staff at Arkansas as he will provide stability for our student-athletes,” Bielema said Wednesday in a release. “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.”
The 40-year-old assistant coach spent five seasons at Ohio State, where he was the Buckeyes' cornerbacks coach before making the move to Fayetteville last January. Johnson coached the 2008 Jim Thorpe award winner, Malcolm Jenkins, and helped three different cornerbacks earn four first-team All-Big Ten honors in his stint at Ohio State.
Last year, Johnson helped develop freshman linebackers A.J. Turner and Otha Peters. Both earned Freshman All-SEC honors after filling in for injured senior linebackers Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith. Another senior linebacker, Terrell Williams, missed two games because of suspension.
In addition to coaching at Ohio State and Arkansas, Johnson was an assistant for the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, Notre Dame, Milikin, Wittenberg, where he played linebacker, and had two stints with Miami (Ohio).
Johnson becomes the eighth full-time assistant on Bielema's inaugural Arkansas staff. He will join former Wisconsin assistants Chris Ash (defensive coordinator) and Charlie Partridge (defensive line coach) and former TCU linebackers coach Randy Shannon on the defensive side of the ball.
On offense, Bielema's staff includes coordinator Jim Chaney, line coach Sam Pittman, running backs coach Joel Thomas and receivers coach George McDonald. Arkansas' final full-time position is expected to be hired to the offensive side.