NOTE: Since this column was published, Coach Darren Hiller has elected to pursue another opportunity. As of this writing, the Offensive Line Coach position is open at Arkansas State.
There was much discussion among the Red Wolves faithful as to who Coach Blake Anderson would recruit to his staff, a once stable crew suddenly infected with a rash of defections. Three important pieces to the A-State offensive machine moved on: Co-OC Walt Bell to Maryland, Co-OC/Offensive Line Glenn Elarbee to Missouri, and long-tenured Running Backs Coach Anthony Tucker to Maryland.
Earlier in the week, the program named Buster Faulkner to the Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach position, who had previously spent the last five years molding the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders into a point-producing juggernaut in CUSA. Thursday morning, Anderson & Company announced two more additions: Darren Hiller (Offensive Line) from the Cincinnati Bearcats, and DeAndre Smith (Running Backs) from the Syracuse Orange.
Both hires are steeped with meaty experience. Coach Darren Hiller made his reputation at Arkansas State (welcome back, Coach), where he spent a decade with Coaches Steve Roberts and Hugh Freeze building a program that would eventually see five consecutive Bowl appearances. From Jonesboro, Hiller spent a season with the Mountain West's Nevada before joining the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2013.
However it's not clear as to whether or not Hiller meets this qualification:
Don't care who coaches AState's offensive line in 2016, as long as he is big and fat.
— Rex Steele (@Answer2Anderson) January 11, 2016
Joining the Red Wolves from the ACC's Syracuse Orange is DeAndre Smith, also a coach bearing significant experience. Smith brings more than 16 years of collegiate coaching to the Red Wolves table, peppering his career with stops at Northern Illinois, New Mexico, and Indiana before landing at Syracuse in 2013. Smith has mentored four All-Americans and nine 1,000-yard rushers. His acumen should be well received by the Red Wolves' stable of speedy RBs.
To tie a ribbon on Coach Anderson's staff remodeling, the program promoted one of the Red Wolves most visible and high-energy coaches.
Trooper Taylor, the charismatic towel-waving corner back's coach, is also one of the program's best recruiters. While the losses of Bell, Elarbee and Tucker were difficult, Anderson managed to entice more proven results in their places. The 2016 season looks to be in practiced hands.