Razorback fans have been anxiously waiting for Bret Bielema to fill the spot on his staff left open when Charlie Partridge left to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic last month, and Rory Segrest is the man Bielema has found to fill the spot.
Segrest has most recently held a similar position at Samford since 2011. Before that, he was on the Philadelphia Eagles staff from 2006-2010. He does have an SEC background as a former player at Alabama, and graduate assistant for the Crimson Tide and Auburn in the late '90s.
The hire is a surprise given Bielema's recent declarations that he had to wait until bowls and NFL games were finished to complete his interviews, and Samford hasn't played since November 30th. There were rumors that Bo Davis, the defensive line coach at Texas under Mack Brown, was on Bielema's list but he agreed to take the position at USC on Tuesday. Whether Bielema actually wanted to hire Davis is unknown.
Many fans will surely be questioning Segrest's recruiting background, especially since Partridge was considered one of the best recruiters on the staff. Frankly, there isn't much on his resume to answer that question. He has spent time as the recruiting coordinator for both Samford and Southwest Missouri State, but unless he recruited as a graduate assistant at Alabama or Auburn, recruiting is never something he's had to do at an SEC level.
That doesn't mean he won't be good at it, and it will be interesting to hear Bielema answer that question at his next press conference, but he's certainly not proven in that area. A little extra NFL experience on the staff isn't a bad thing.
Here's the press release from UA:
FAYETTEVILLE - Rory Segrest, who helped the Philadelphia Eagles advance to the NFL playoffs three times and make one NFC Championship Game appearance in five seasons, has been named Arkansas' defensive line coach and specialists coach, head coach Bret Bielema announced Wednesday.
"We had an exceptional pool of candidates and Rory's name kept coming to the top in every category as I went through the search process," Coach Bielema said. "I took notice of his coaching abilities when we prepared to play Samford this past season and they were excellent on special teams. All of the coaches I visited with about him spoke very highly about his abilities, including Andy Reid. Rory brings championship experience at both the NFL and collegiate levels to our program."
Segrest comes to Arkansas after the third year of his second stint on the Samford coaching staff after returning as the team's defensive line coach and special teams coordinator in 2011. He previously coached at Samford from 2002-05 when he was defensive line coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
Samford finished the 2013 season ranked 18th in the final coaches poll after earning the program's first NCAA Division I - FCS Playoff berth since 1992. Fabian Truss was named to the AFCA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches' All-America Team as an all-purpose player as he ranked second nationally in kickoff return average at 32.1 yards per return. The Samford defense also led the SoCon in sacks and tackles for loss.
In 2012, Samford defensive lineman Nick Williams was named first-team all-conference, finished second in the Southern Conference in sacks and 36th nationally (FCS) with seven sacks. Williams was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. Samford's defense tied for first in the SoCon and finished 27th in the FBS in sacks with 27. Additionally, Samford ranked 29th in the FCS in total defense.
Segrest's special teams units also had success in the 2012 season finishing sixth in kickoff returns with a 24.91 yard-per- return average and first in the SoCon in kickoff coverage. Punt returner Riley Hawkins finished first in the SoCon and 14th in the FCS in punt return average, and Truss finished third in the SoCon and 13th in the FCS in kick return average. Kicker Cameron Yam was named first-team All American as well as first team all-conference.
Segrest's 2011 special teams units improved in every category over the previous season. The kickoff return unit was ranked 12th in the FCS, and Truss ranked seventh in the FCS and the punt return unit was ranked 19th in the FCS. Redshirt freshman punter Peranich ranked 24th in the FCS and was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team. Kicker Cameron Yaw ranked second in the FCS in field goals, connecting on 23-of-28, and was tied for eighth in total scoring.
Segrest returned to Samford after coaching with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2006-10. While with the Eagles, Segrest was the special teams quality control/assistant defensive line coach (2006-07), special teams coordinator (2007-09) and defensive line coach (2009-10). In 2006 and 2010, the Eagles were the NFC East champions and made it to the NFC Championship game in 2008. Segrest also coached in the 2009 Pro Bowl.
Segrest's 2009 and 2010 defensive line units with the Eagles ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the NFL in sacks by defensive linemen. They ranked third (2010) and ninth (2009) in the league for tackles for a loss by defensive linemen and in 2010 was ranked second in the NFL in quarterback knockdowns and hurries by defensive linemen. Segrest coached defensive line Pro Bowl players Trent Cole (2009, 2010) and Broderick Bunkley (2009).
Segrest's special teams units with the Eagles finished third in the NFL in 2008 in field goals made, and Pro Bowl kicker David Akers broke franchise records with 33 field goals and 144 points scored. Akers set his career high that year with 17 touchbacks. Punter Sav Rocca set a franchise record with his single-season net punt average of 37.9. Rocca and Akers were both named NFL's Special Teams Player of the month.
Segrest's previous coaching stops include Southeast Missouri State where he coached the defensive line in 1999 before adding recruiting coordinator duties for 2000-01. He was also the defensive graduate assistant at Auburn University from 1997-99 working with the defensive line and special teams units.
His coaching career began under Gene Stallings as a student assistant at Alabama in 1994 after his playing career was cut short by an injury. He was a member of the Crimson Tide's 1992 National Championship Team and was also awarded the team's 1995 Co-Leadership Award. Collegiately, Segrest has been a part of six bowl games as either a player or coach.
A native of Waycross, Ga., and a graduate of Waycross High School, he earned his B.S. in health-care management from Alabama in 1996 where he met his wife, Jackie. They have a son, James (12).