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Head Hog embraces roots, work of high school coaches

by Bob Holt | December 8, 2017 at 2:11 a.m.
Newly hired University of Arkansas football coach Chad Morris listens Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, during a press conference at the Fowler Family Baseball and Track Indoor Training Center in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Chad Morris is the Arkansas Razorbacks' new football coach, but during Thursday's introductory news conference, the Dallas native made it clear he hasn't forgotten his Texas high school coaching roots.

"I'm a high school football coach and I'm extremely, extremely proud to say that," Morris said. "If you've never been a part of a fraternity of high school coaches, you won't understand what I'm about to say.

"You have to wash the clothes, you have to line the field, you've got to meet with boosters, you've got to meet the English teacher. You've got to be in the lunch room on lunch duty.

"When I'm able to walk into a room at the high school coaches' office and sit down, I can relate immediately to what their day-to-day life is."

Morris, who had a 169-38 record in 16 seasons at five Texas high schools from 1994-2009 before breaking into the college ranks as Tulsa's offensive coordinator, said that as the Razorbacks' coach he wants to improve things for high school coaches -- especially in Arkansas.

"To the high coaches in our state, we're here for you," he said. "This is your university. We want to make your life better. We want to make your job better. We need you. I need you.

"We're going to lock arms together with you to make sure we all benefit, and we're going to see this program rise to the top. You're always welcome here."

Two Arkansas high school coaches in attendance at the news conference -- Fayetteville's Billy Dawson and Greenwood's Rick Jones -- applauded Morris' message.

"Chad is one of us," Dawson said. "He's been there and he understands what we do. It's nice for us to see one of our high school guys make it to where he's at now.

"We're proud of him and we're proud for him and look forward to having a good relationship with him."

Jones said he got to know Morris several years ago through Auburn Coach Malzahn, who at the time was Springdale High School's head coach.

"I'm fired up to have Chad here," Jones said. "Of course, as high school coaches, we root for our own. So I'm rooting for all the high school guys that have made the jump to college. Guys like Chad and Gus."

Morris said he and his assistant coaches will recruit Texas extensively as well as other bordering states, but that the entire staff will recruit Arkansas.

"We'll see every high school in this great state," he said. "I'll share this with you as I share with all these high school coaches, that when [Arkansas' coaches] walk into your office, you make sure to get something from them. Ask them what their best third-and-6 play is. Ask them what their best pressure is against short yardage. Ask them what their best movement is.

"Get something out of these coaches, because there's far more than just about walking in and putting a [business] card down and saying, 'Who do you got?' You may not have anybody and you may not have a player that comes out of your school and hadn't came out in eight to 10 years. That doesn't matter, because you will one day."

Jones said it's a plus Morris will run a Spread offense at Arkansas similar to what Greenwood uses.

"It's fun to have somebody in our state that's a great resource, that's as smart as Chad and his staff are and that we can drive 60 minutes up here to talk instead of having to go to Atlanta or Auburn like we have in the past trying to learn stuff," Jones said. "It's great to have it right here on the campus of the University of Arkansas."

Morris said he wants to be an inspiration for high school coaches.

"I'm hope," he said. "That's what I am. I'm hope, because there's a lot of high school coaches out there that are looking at me and looking at college coaches throughout that have had high school experience and saying, 'You know what? If that guy can do it, I can do it.' "

Jones said as excited as he is about Morris coaching the Razorbacks, he also enjoyed dealing with Bret Bielema, who was Arkansas' coach the previous five seasons.

"I have a great amount of respect for Coach Bielema," Jones said. "He's been good to my boys that have come up here and played. I appreciate what he did.

"But as a high school coach, I think it's fun for us to see that we've got one of our own coaching the Razorbacks."


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