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July 17, 2018

Chad Morris

Atlanta, Georgia

CHAD MORRIS: All right. I'm not so sure if that's my water or the previous coach's water that was up here, so I brought my own here to get this thing started.

Man, just, wow. Just want to thank everybody. I want to thank the College Football Hall of Fame for putting on this spectacular event. You know, it was quick to notice, as soon as you pulled up, that football season's on us. And I want to thank you all for coming out and having an interest in the Arkansas Razorbacks. I bumped into several of you in the hallway that I've seen from some of my prior stops. And I look forward to catch up and shaking your hand.

I'm just excited to be here and to be a part of the SEC Media Days. It means so much to me and my family that we would be put in a position and put on a platform to be able to impact lives in the manner in which we do. And when you get to these Media Days, at this point, I remember previous stops, that once the SEC Media Days started coming on TV, you knew football season was right on you.

It was the kickoff of the season. And, man, I'm excited to watch our guys compete. I know we'll talk about that throughout the course of the day. My family and I are honored to be a part of University of Arkansas and the great storied tradition of Razorback football from Razorbacks past, present and future.

It is truly an honor to be the head football coach there and be a part of the Razorbacks and be surrounded by all of the great players and coaches that are a part of these Media Days. Again, it's an honor that we take and excited about.

It's been 223 days since we started, and since we got to Fayetteville, since the plane landed, and a lot of things has happened between then and now. And there's a lot of similarities from some of my previous stops as we build this program moving forward and taking on the blueprint to turn this program around into a championship caliber team.

The alumni and the fans, the entire state has welcomed us with open arms and the passion for the Hogs, for the Razorbacks, for the University. I thought I knew. I had no clue until I traveled around our great state and to hear the stories that had been told and been able to listen to and share with me their special place in their heart for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas football has had a storied past. And we're going to work daily with the National Championship of 1964, we're going to work daily to build on and restore the traditions for the Razorbacks of the past, the Razorbacks of the present, and the Razorbacks of the future. We got a long way to go. Make no mistake about it. But I've been extremely impressed with Trumain Carroll, our strength coach, and his staff and what they've done in the 223 days that we have been there and transforming our players to where we are at this point this time today.

Again, I look forward to watching these guys as we kick this season off in the next three weeks. The three players we have with us here today are fabulous. They are great players. More importantly, they are great men, great leaders, and great students. And I know you're going to enjoy your time today getting to know each and every one of them.

Offensive lineman, Hjalte Froholdt, from Denmark is scheduled to graduate in December, a leader in our offensive line.

Linebacker, Dre Greenlaw, a young man from Fayetteville High School and from our state, a local young man that is also scheduled to graduate in December, one of the leaders in our defensive unit at linebacker.

And defensive back, Santos Ramirez, a graduate, Santos Ramirez, which I'm extremely proud to announce he'll be wearing the graduate patch, the SEC patch, on his jersey this year. Excited about that.

So our staff of the last 223 days have been busy recruiting, hitting the ground full speed ahead, developing our culture and developing these young men into what we want to turn this program around. And we're looking for guys that want to be their best. That's it because best is our standard. And every aspect of our program is geared toward developing these young men and to becoming the best they can be, and that's all I ask. I'm going to ask to give you my absolute best today, and that's what we ask of each and every one of our players, to be the best we can be each and every day. That's how we're going to build this program.

I said it before, but the time is now and the place is here. Fayetteville, Arkansas is a special place. I've had an opportunity to watch several games there as a fan and to see the fan base, to watch the excitement level and now that we're enclosed in the north end zone complex and getting it completed, I look forward to making that one of the toughest places to play in all of college football.

Offensively, Joe Craddock is our offensive coordinator, one from the bright young minds in all of college football. Offensively, we'll be fast-paced, up tempo. We want to be a two-back run oriented first football team taking play action shots down the field, but I also know this, being a high school coach for as long as I have, sometimes you have to adapt to what you have. That will be the coaching. That will be the interesting part as this season unfolds.

Defensively, John Chavis, when I went out to -- when I got the job, I had one phone call that I made, and it was to John Chavis, and reached out to Chief. And having played against Chief matter of fact here in Atlanta, in a bowl game, knowing that the difficulty and preparing for his style of defense excited me. I want to be multiple. I want to be aggressive. And I want to put pressure, and I want to disrupt the quarterback. And that was what I was looking for. And Coach Chavis came to mind right off.

And I'm excited about him as I shared with him, I said Coach Chavis, I believe I can help you in your career because as you can -- if you can defend me and defend our offense, you can defend a lot of people across the country. And I believe that he has things of value to help our offense, and we've got things to help our defense grow as the game of football continues to change.

Special teams, Tanner Burns is our special teams analyst. And each and every coach has a special teams responsibility, but we all know the value of special teams with the rules that are changing now on the kickoff return and kickoff. It will be interesting to see how the strategy unfolds. So I'm excited about that.

Special teams is nothing more than a mindset. It's a mindset that these units will win you football games. And the emphasis that are placed on these units each and every day are reserved for only those guys that want to be elite. We're going to be aggressive and on the cutting edge in all aspects of your game.

We have a great group of young men in our locker room that have looked and worked extremely hard, locking arms with a brand-new coaching staff, buying into a culture. And we look forward to locking arms with the greatest fan base in college football and calling the Hogs in the greatest state to become one Arkansas. And that's my goal is become one Arkansas, and everybody come together because that's truly what it's going to take is for us to unite and come together and get this program back to where it needs to be. And with that, I'll open up for questions.

Q. The expectations that you're going to have for this team, I think a lot of the magazines and products from here might put you last in the SEC West. How are you dealing with that with your team and what are your expectations?
CHAD MORRIS: You know, Tom, I've been asked that, the expectations. Nobody is going to put anymore higher expectations on this program than I am.

Whether we're picked to finish first or finish last is irrelevant at this point in time. As the way I looked at it, nobody's played a snap yet. There's a lot to prove.

One thing, as I shared with our players, because we have, we've heard it, and our players have heard it. You can't help but not to hear it. It's how hungry is this football team going to be because of it. And we got a lot of returning starters, a lot of returning lettermen, that experienced the season that they had last year.

And I've said it before and 4-8 is not acceptable. It's not acceptable whoever coach is regardless of that. So these young men have had to feel that. They've had to have that bitter taste in their mouth. It's something that they've worked extremely hard about. So those that pick, they don't understand what's happening inside that locker room and the development of these young men. And that, Tom, is what excites me.

Q. How special is it that you're coaching in the same division as your alma mater and do you like the idea of playing the Aggies in Arlington every year?
CHAD MORRIS: Well, first of all, from -- just being a high school football coach, you know, being a high school football coach and be set here on this stage in the SEC, you know, there's a lot of high school coaches out there right now that are watching. And they're saying, you know what, if that guy can do it, I want to do it.

And so for me to have the platform as a high school coach to represent the high school coaches all across the country, regardless of what state, because I've recruited across this entire country and to see the phenomenal high school coaches and to know that, man, there's an opportunity that one day I can be there. One day I can coach in the SEC. I could be on that stage as a head football coach. That excites me.

Being from the state of Texas, and you know, playing the teams that we play, we got a lot of teams to play before we get to the one in Arlington. So we're going to focus first and foremost on the Arkansas Razorbacks and becoming the best we can be every day.

I'm excited regardless where we play. That's just who I am. If you know me, and obviously you probably do from my high school background, now I'm just excited about the opportunity to impact lives. And coaching football is what we do, but it's not who I am.

Q. As you've gotten to know the program a little bit, know people around it and the fans, I'm curious, do you get a sense of who Razorback supporters view as their rival in the league?
CHAD MORRIS: Who our rival is?

Q. Yeah. Who do you view it as?
CHAD MORRIS: Right now, I would say our biggest rival is the Arkansas Razorbacks.

And that's been my mindset pushing forward each and every day. We talk about the team right now that is capable of defeating us are ourself. And it's our actions and how we approach each and every day, and it's a choice.

I may sound like I'm giving coach speak, but this is truly how we live and how we operate and how we build this program is being the best we can be. I do know that there's several trophies we have. We play several trophy games. And one is played in Arlington and the other is the battle line between the two states.

And so, I'm excited about that. There's -- we've got -- I think there's three trophies we're playing for so. Apparently there's a lot of rivalries.

But I know we got a rivalry coming up on the very first game of the year that we better be focused first and foremost on and be ready to play. So we'll get to those. I'm sure I'll continue to hear more and more.

As I travel the state, everybody has their own rival. And each rival tells me, if you'll just beat this team, this is who we'll rival with. And I said, wait a minute, I thought that's who we rivalled with. If you beat this, a lot of sins will be forgiven if you do this for us. Hey, look, let's just focus on being the best we can be one day at a time.

Q. I think one of the reasons for our low expectations from the media side of things is uncertainty of the quarterback position. Where are you right now with the quarterback battle? How do you plan on determining on who is going to be the quarterback? How have things have gone in the summer also?
CHAD MORRIS: You know, one of the things -- and if I knew the answer to the quarterback scenario that we have working right now, believe me, we would put it out there and let you all run with it, but we don't.

But what I do know is this, this is what I do know about our quarterbacks, I do know that when we walked off the field on that snowy, sleet, cold, rainy, sunshine day at our spring game there in Little Rock, I do know this, that the development of the quarterback was going to be determined from that day to the start of fall camp. And all great quarterbacks that I've been associated with and been around have all grown more in the time of summer development to where they are placed in a leadership position and placed in a role to where whether young men are going to gravitate to them and be led by them through summer workouts when it's their skills and drills which led on their own.

And so we'll see. I've met with several of them. We've met with all of them, but I know that we're going to have a great competition going on which is healthy. It's healthy at all positions. And I'm excited. And once we do name one, it doesn't mean that you sign a lifetime contract. There is no lifetime contract at the quarterback position. And so it's a continuous battle every day. We fully anticipate naming one for sure at some point in time during fall camp.

I'm excited about these guys. They've really -- each one of them has worked on their craft in a way their weakness that they needed to through the course of summer.

Q. You got the news awhile back that Kevin Richardson is going to get his sixth year of eligibility. How good was that? What does that mean for your defense?
CHAD MORRIS: You know, Kevin Richardson -- I believe Kevin, K-Rich came to this last year as a leader. So there was a lot of uncertainty through the course of winter. And there for a while, he was unable to workout with us. Then he gets cleared to start working out, and we still didn't know with certainty until late into spring. And just to watch that young man lead, even though he didn't, Bob, he didn't know if he was going to be cleared to play or not and still watch him interact with his teammates, you knew this young man was special.

And now that -- after knowing him like I do now and watching him transform from the summer, through the summer, and listening to him to speak yesterday in a team meeting resonated with everybody. When he speaks, people listen. And he's got that charisma about him. That's very exciting. He.

Is a leader, and he's got a great future when his football career is over in leading people, leading men and women, because that's what he is. I'm excited. I'm excited about, one, his experience that he's bringing back to this defense.

Q. I know you've had a relationship with Gus Malzahn dating back to your high school days. What has that relationship meant to you in your career and what is it like being an SEC head coach in the same division as him now?
CHAD MORRIS: Yeah. Well, it's -- let me go way back. Absolutely, Gus and I have had a relationship going back to the very early 2000s. And I consider him a very dear friend for 364 days a year. But, you know, we've played against each other before, and -- but he -- he's been very instrumental into me standing on this stage today.

And so from a time way back from a high school football coach that had been successful and had fallen on a bad year and needing to look at the change that was happening in football and to reach out to someone that didn't know me and I didn't know him and him to lend a helping hand to me really allowed me to continue to progress my career.

And since then, he and I have been friends. We've talked ball every year. And I definitely consider him and his wife Kristi, Paula and I consider them very dear friends and have helped me get to where we are today. You know, I'm excited for his career, and I'm excited for the matchup, obviously being in the same division. But it's -- you know, it's unique. This is a fraternity. It's a great fraternity, and you get to really interact. And that one time a year, you get to go against each other.

Q. Obviously, you're well-renowned for your high school coaching career, but during that same time I understand that you were also a teacher. I'm just curious to say what was your experience doing that and how has that really transferred to recruiting in the locker room, obviously?
CHAD MORRIS: Well, let's start first with being a teacher. You know, outside of my mom and dad influencing my life, and I know they're watching today, I wouldn't be where I am today without a high school coach and teacher impacting my life and touching my life and seeing something in me that others didn't see, and pushing me, and pushing me beyond my limits, and so impacting my life to get in to teaching and teaching math.

I majored in math, minored in statistics, and being able to go in and teach math and impact lives is critical. I do not believe there's such a thing as a great coach and not a good teacher. I think as you look across our country and you look at the high school coaches that impact lives, we're in a society right now that is so -- needs so many male figures to impact lives, and high school coaches is where it's at. And teachers are where it's at.

To know that our teachers out there -- and for me to be able to say and stand in front of you and say that I've proudly been a teacher and proudly been a high school coach and proud to say my wife was a teacher for 16 years. And so teaching is what we do. We teach every day. We impact lives. We teach every single day. And that doesn't change whether you're in the classroom or out of the classroom. That is a great profession and a great question. Thank you.

Q. When you were studying for your mathematics degree, matriculating at A&M, how were you loving football at that time and how did you make the transition from being the teacher to being a football coach?
CHAD MORRIS: Yeah. You know, really it started, I was going to get into the actuarial field. That's what I was going to do and had taken a series of actuarial exams.

My wife and I got engaged. And I said, I wanted to -- what can I do to continue to take these exams and still impact lives. And what can we do? And I knew that there was a shortage of math teachers. And so I reverted straight back to my math teacher, which so happened to coach me, and I modeled my teaching after the way he taught me.

And so that's how I got in it. And I always got into it thinking that I very well may get out of the business, but every time something would come up, the kids, the players that we were teaching and coaching would just say, Coach, this is -- you're making a difference. This is incredible, what you're teaching us, and not just me, but our staff. So that's -- and I just kept coming back that this is what God's called me to do and where to be.

Q. I wanted to ask you about a member of your coaching staff. He's been with you all of the way back to the Clemson days. He was a high school star for a legend Fred Yancey at Briarwood Christian. He was a great player at Middle Tennessee and his transition into coaching fraternity.
What did you see in Joe Craddock that made him special and also talk about your offensive philosophy? You're known as an up tempo guy and just talk about Joe Craddock's impact on your program and what you expect to do offensively at Arkansas?

CHAD MORRIS: Let me start, we're talking about Joe. Joe Craddock, as I mentioned earlier, is one of the bright young minds in college football. When he got to us in Clemson, when Coach Swinney hired him, he hired him, and he basically started out sweeping the weight room floors.

He and our offensive line Coach Dustin Fry started that, and they worked their way up. I knew he had something to him when one of our very first offensive meetings, when it was over with, we talked, and he didn't say anything. He sat over at the corner and didn't say anything. And a lot of young guys, young analysts, young GAs get in this business, they sit and listen.

There's a lot of people that have been in this business a long time that know. And if you listen, you'll learn. But when it was over with and the guys walked out, I remember he and I walked out the door together. He said Coach, I want to ask you a couple questions about ball, and we started talking. Five minutes led to an hour. We're on the board, and he's drawing up some things, and we're talking. I said, man, this guy's got something to him. I want to see how he responds to players, how he reacts. When something goes wrong, how does he develop himself? How does he continue to grow and handle the tough situations?

And then just one thing just continued to grow, and Joe was part of our game plan. And I trusted him more every day. He helped me with the quarterbacks. And I knew he had a great, you know, storied past in Alabama in coaching and playing at high school ranks and obviously Middle Tennessee. And this guy, he's on cutting edge. He and I think very, very similar, and you have to. You've been together seven years.

He and I worked together and calling the plays. He calls the plays, but he and I are in constant communication. But I am excited about that. And offensively, we're going to be who we are. That's what we do. We're going to be a very fast paced two back, motion in and out of structure, changing the tempo.

Tempo at times is a buzz word that's used to think you just go fast the whole time when truly tempo is the ability to change the pace of the game. Go fast. Huddle up a little bit. Maybe break a huddle fast. Maybe go slow. Check the sideline. That's the ability to change the tempo of the game. And talking to defensive coordinators, they would much rather you play one speed, whether it's all fast or slow or huddle, play that same speed the whole game. You work in their favor, but your ability to change the tempo causes people problems. And that's who we're going to be. We'll continue to evolve with the personnel that we have. Again being a high school coach, you have to do that, and you know, we'll continue to play to our players' strengths.

Q. Kind of a two-parter. There's been a lot of changes the last couple years with rules and recruiting. I was wondering your thoughts. Do you think the rules have been beneficial with moving the calendar up so much and the dead period we're currently in? And also on that, with redshirts being allowed to play four games, how do you plan to implement that? Is it very experimental for you right now?
CHAD MORRIS: I'm going to start with the last question there. I love the redshirt. I really do. I think it shows the development of these young men to where that maybe they're not ready early on, but you continue to keep them in the mix. You keep their interest. Sometimes when guys find out that they are redshirted early on, in the past, they've kind of lost their focus. And all of a sudden, an injury happens. And late in the year, this young man's got to try to really back in, and he can't get there mentally.

Where now, it allows us to have these guys intact and to play them. And if they're not ready early on, which we would never put a player on the field if they weren't mentally and physically ready to play in this league, and it may not happen early on for a true freshman, but it might later in the year. So I'm excited about that.

So I do feel that the way the recruiting has changed, with the early sign-in period, a year from now, when I come back in and be able to address that same question with an early signing period, I'm probably going to be very much in favor of it. But being a transition, one of the six coaches, I believe, that was part of the transition of the change of coming into a new place and signing a class on December 20th, it was awful. I mean, it was hard.

You're trying to build a two-year relationship in

20 minutes in a coach's office with a young man. And usually that player that you had to wind up pulling out of a review that maybe getting ready for a final exam or you are going into an in -home visit and a young man is preparing for exams, and you are trying to give a whole spiel at a dinner table, and you didn't have the luxury of building that relationship. So that was tough. I'm not pulling any punches about that. It was tough with a coaching change. I look forward to as we develop our next class having those relationships sound and solid and be able to sign a great class.

Q. What have you seen in De'Jon Harris and what does he bring to the defense?
CHAD MORRIS: You know, very outgoing, very much outspoken and is not acceptable or not accepted with what happened last year. Takes on a lot of responsibility. Very accountable young man that is not going to be satisfied with being average and nor is he going to allow people around him to be average. A very versatile player now, I will tell you that, a player that can play multiple positions.

He's a football player. That's what he is. He's just a really good football player that's got a great future ahead of him. And we just -- we talk all of the time about just building your own house, just staying focused and working every day to be the best you can be to get to where you want to get to. How is that going to happen? You got to work today, and he does that, and he models that.

And I'm excited about watching that young man compete as well all of our players, but watching him compete this year and set the standard for Razorback football.

THE MODERATOR: Coach Morris, welcome to the SEC and thank you for your time.

CHAD MORRIS: Thank you, all.

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