FAYETTEVILLE — For the first two months of Dowell Loggains’ Arkansas football career in 2000, Joe Ferguson called him “Darryl” in quarterback meetings.
Ferguson was the Razorbacks’ quarterbacks coach and a member of Arkansas’ All-Century Team who played 18 seasons in the NFL and passed for 29,817 yards and 196 touchdowns.
Loggains was a 5-6 freshman walk-on from Abilene, Texas.
The other quarterbacks on the 2000 team — Robby Hampton, Zak Clark and Jared McBride — urged Loggains to correct Ferguson.
“I’m like, ‘I’m going to keep answering to Darryl,’ ” Loggains said earlier this summer. “I didn’t have the guts to correct him. I mean, he’s Joe Ferguson.”
Ferguson eventually started calling Loggains “Dowell” after Hampton said something to him.
“I guess it was just easier to say ‘Darryl’ instead of ‘Dowell,’ ” Ferguson said, poking fun at himself. “But I don’t think anyone’s going to make that mistake again.”
Loggains, 31, is making a name for himself in the NFL going into his third season as the Tennessee Titans’ quarterbacks coach.
“Dowell’s reputation has grown as one of the bright young coaches in the NFL,” said Chris Mortensen, an NFL reporter and analyst for ESPN. “He’s held in high regard throughout the league.”
The Chicago Bears were denied permission by Tennessee to interview Loggains for their vacant quarterbacks coach job in January, which Mortensen said shows how much Loggains is valued.
“There’s no question he’s going to be an offensive coordinator, and I think probably within the next year or two,” Mortensen said. “After that, he might be a head coach.”
Loggains played in 50 games for the Razorbacks while lettering in 2001-2004 after he redshirted in 2000, but his primary role was being a holder on field-goal and extra-point attempts.
“I came to Arkansas with the intention of becoming a college coach,” said Loggains, who was born in Newport. “I didn’t have much desire to coach in the NFL at the time, but things have worked out well. It’s been a great ride so far.”
Loggains initially was disappointed when he didn’t land a graduate assistant’s job at Arkansas after the 2004 season. Not sure what to do next, he had an impressive interview with the Dallas Cowboys and landed a job as a scouting assistant.
Whenever Loggains had a chance, he’d help Cowboys assistants Sean Payton, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley — who all went on to become NFL head coaches — with anything they needed, including breaking down film, charting plays or working on statistical analysis. David Lee, a former Arkansas quarterbacks coach, was the team’s quality control offensive assistant.
“I learned more football that year than I had in my whole life,” Loggains said. “It was an incredible experience just to watch how those guys worked.”
Loggains took a job with the Titans as a coaching administrative assistant in 2006, then became an offensive quality control assistant in 2008 and quarterbacks coach in 2010.
“Among all the guys I coached, I guess Dowell’s not the first one I would have thought would become an NFL quarterbacks coach,” Ferguson said. “But when I really sit down and analyze it, he was the one that was studying the most.
“He wasn’t going to play much, but you put him on the board and he could answer any question you’d ask, because he was there to learn so he could become a coach one day. He knew what he wanted to do in life at a young age.
“He’s accomplished that mission, and he’s doing well and moving up the ranks.”
Loggains has coached two quarterbacks at Tennessee, Kerry Collins and Matt Hasselbeck, who are five years older than him.
“The thing I’ve found out about these guys is that as long as they trust you and that you can help them get better, they’ll listen to everything you say,” Loggains said. “But they’re going to test you, and the minute you can’t give them what they want, they’re done with you. You have to be able to give them the knowledge they need to be successful on Sunday.”
Loggains said his goal is to become an NFL head coach.
“I hope that’s the progression,” he said. “To this point, the process has happened faster than some people think it should have, but I’ve put in a lot of hard work and had a lot of really great coaches help me along the way.
“The most important thing is that you’ve got a passion for it and continue to improve, because if you get the opportunity to be a coordinator or a head coach, you want to be ready.”
Clark, the offensive coordinator at Fayetteville High School, said he isn’t surprised Loggains has become an NFL coaching success.
“It didn’t take long to figure out he’s a phenomenal guy with a great mind who works extremely hard,” Clark said. “But all of Dowell’s success hasn’t changed him. You can still get him on the phone. He’ll come back to Arkansas to work a camp.
“Dowell’s the same ol’ Darryl he’s always been.”
At a glance
NAME Dowell Loggains POSITION Tennessee Titans quarterbacks coach COLLEGE A walk-on quarterback who lettered at Arkansas in 2001-2004, playing in 50 games as the team’s holder. Also took a few snaps at quarterback. AGE 31 (born Oct. 1, 1980 in Newport) HIGH SCHOOL Abilene (Texas) Cooper FAMILY Wife, Beth, daughters Reese and Aven. His wife was an Arkansas cheerleader and is from Bryant. COACHING CAREER Dallas Cowboys scouting assistant 2005, Tennessee Titans coaching administrative assistant 2006-2007, offensive quality control assistant 2008-2009 and quarterbacks coach 2010 to present.
Sports, Pages 29 on 07/29/2012