Jim Harris: Bielema Eyeing USF LB Coach Raymond Woodie


When Randy Shannon left the Arkansas Razorback coaching staff, Andy Buh was the first name that popped up in some circles as Shannon’s likely replacement, because Buh had coached with Hog head man Bret Bielema at Wisconsin and is currently just working a desk job at California after one abysmal season as defensive coordinator for the Bears and Sonny Dykes in  2013.

Buh may still be Bielema’s top target, but the Razorback head coach seems to be focusing his attention more on linebacker coaches with deep Florida recruiting ties.

Which brings us to Raymond Woodie, the linebackers coach for Willie Taggart at South Florida. A source close to Woodie has said he will interview with Bielema early this week.

Woodie has been with Taggart since joining his Western Kentucky staff in 2010, coaching defensive ends for two seasons and linebackers in year 3 before the staff left Bowling Green, Ky., for Tampa and USF.

Here’s some of Raymond Woodie’s background at WKU:

While coaching linebackers in 2012, Woodie guided Andrew Jackson to his second-consecutive 100-tackle season, earning first team All-Sun Belt Conference for the second-straight year. Jackson ranked in the top 25 nationally in both solo tackles (76) and tackles for loss (17.5). Jackson, along with fellow linebacker Xavius Boyd, set career highs in tackles with 116 and 71, respectively.

As defensive ends coach in 2011, Woodie helped guide three Hilltoppers to all-Sun Belt Conference honors. Quanterus Smith was named to the second team, while Jared Clendenin and Bo Adebayo were honorable mention all-league picks. All three ranked among the league leaders in both sacks and tackles for loss, with Smith ranking second in the conference with 7.5 sacks on the year. Thanks in part to the efforts of those three individuals, WKU tied for third in the league in sacks in 2011 after finishing last in the conference a season before.

Woodie is a native of Bradenton, Fla., played at Bethune-Cookman University and coached high school football at Palmetto, Fla., from 2007-2009 before joining Taggart and the college ranks. He also coached Bayshore High School in Bradenton for 10 seasons before moving to Palmetto. As a player, he played outside linebacker and safety at Bethune-Cookman.

Here are some of his highlights at USF with Taggart:

Woodie helped  Taggart and USF secure the top rated recruiting class in the American Conference in 2014 and was named the top recruiter in The American by Rivals. The 2014 season saw sophomore linebacker Nigel Harris lead the nation and set a new USF record with six forced fumbles while leading the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and finishing second with 77 tackles.

In his first season at USF, Woodie helped guide senior linebacker DeDe Lattimore to a career-best 98 tackles and second team All-AAC honors. Lattimore, who went on to play for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, led the AAC and ranked 10th in the FBS forcing four fumbles and recovered three, part of a turn-around that saw USF nearly triple its forced turnovers from nine the previous season to 25 and score three defensive touchdowns.

It appears clear that Bielema didn’t already have his replacement in mind when Shannon told him he was leaving for Florida, but Bielema did say he had a list of 15 candidates when he discussed the opening last week. Shannon joined Bielema’s original Arkansas staff, and with his departure, no defensive coaches remain from the first defensive staff Bielema assembled in 2013. Shannon left to join new Florida head coach Jim McElwain, assuming similar roles that he had at Arkansas — linebackers coach and assistant head coach — while also adding the title of co-defensive coordinator. By being named a co-coordinator, Shannon and Florida avoided having to pay Arkansas a $50,000 buyout from his UA contract, which allowed for a provision or Shannon to leave for a “promotion” without being required to buy out the contract.

It also appears clear that Bielema is determined to keep the state of Florida in Arkansas’ recruiting sights for the foreseeable future with his next linebackers coach hire. Shannon had Arkansas on several Florida targets this year, and the Razorbacks received a commitment from highly touted three-star linebacker Derrick Graham in the fall. Graham has told recruiting reporters in Arkansas that he would wait and see who Arkansas hired as linebacker coach before he made a move in his recruitment.


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