His first taste of coaching came over the span of three seasons at his alma mater from 1978-80. From Jonesboro, the Thayer, MO native moved on to Hugh Freeze's hometown of Senatobia, MS, where he coached the offensive line at Northwest Mississippi Community College for four seasons and was part of a national championship team in 1982. Caldwell then returned to A-State to serve as Larry Lacewell's linebackers coach for a very successful run during the 80s.
Since then, his career has taken him to the nationally vaunted program at Tennessee (where he was part of another national championship squad), as well as stops at Nevada and Arkansas.
So when first-year ASU Head Coach Bryan Harsin announced in early February that he had hired Caldwell as his new defensive line coach, a lot of the "old-school" A-State fans had big smiles on their faces, because they knew one of their own was coming home. That excitement was matched by the former Indian defensive end/linebacker, and more than four months later, he remains just as thrilled.
"It's really exciting to be back home...in a place that really means a lot to me," Caldwell said this afternoon on the AstAteNation Radio program. "It's unbelievable to me how much it's grown...the whole city of Jonesboro has just changed so much," he added.
Caldwell also cited the growth of the Red Wolf football program, in particular the strong fan support that it now enjoys.
"Not long after I got back (Defensive Coordinator) Johnny Thompson and I sat down and he showed me the film of the game against Middle Tennessee last season...to see that stadium full of people nearly brought tears to my eyes," he said, adding "I can't wait until that first game this fall to see the stadium full of our fans."
Caldwell and the Red Wolves will open the season on August 31 at Liberty Bank Stadium against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Randy Myers is the co-host of AstAteNation Radio. The program airs Monday-Friday from 11-1 on The Ticket 970am/95.3fm and on the web at 953theticket.com.
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