Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema once again took his time during the hiring process, but got the man he wanted in the end.
Bielema announced Wednesday that he has hired Oklahoma State's Jemal Singleton as both his new running backs coach and his new special teams coordinator.
Singleton - an Air Force graduate and player who has an Arkansas tie as he was the public affairs office at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville from 2001-2003 - has spent the past 10 years as running backs coach at Oklahoma State and Air Force, where he spent six season before heading to Stillwater.
“We are very intrigued with Jemal’s history as a person, player and coach, and specifically his experience with the running back position,” Bielema said. “He will be a great asset that brings life experience to Arkansas. Jemal fits into our offensive and special teams philosophy. We are excited for him to join our program and help us win an SEC championship.”
Singleton, whose backs did not lose a fumble last season in 509 touches and put the ball on the ground just one time, will make $310,000 for each of the next two years and is happy to be joining the Razorback staff after meeting with Bielema and Arkansas Director of Athletics and Vice Chancellor Jeff Long.
He was making $287,000 a year at Oklahoma State and replaces Joel Thomas, who left Arkansas to become the running backs coach for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, and his departure leaves Oklahoma State with three vacancies to fill.
“After meeting with Coach Bielema, Mr. Long and the rest of the Razorback football staff, I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of,” Singleton said. “It was just the perfect fit, both on and off the field. The opportunity to coordinate special teams and work with two returning 1,000 yard rushers was icing on the cake. My family and I cannot wait to join this great institution and community. I look forward to helping the University of Arkansas win an SEC championship.”
The Razorbacks are set to begin spring practice either March 15 of 16th with the Spring Game set for April 25th.
Arkansas noted Singleton's achievements in a press release announcing his hire:
In 2013, Oklahoma State rushed for 35 touchdowns in the regular season, ranking second in the Big 12 and 15th nationally. The mark was also the sixth-best in a single season in school history. Desmond Roland rushed for 13 touchdowns, leading all Big 12 running backs and ranking 31st nationally despite not starting until the seventh game of the season.
Singleton served as the position coach for Joseph Randle, one of the most heralded running backs in Oklahoma State history. In 2012, Randle was a unanimous first-team All-Big 12 selection after leading the Big 12 with 1,417 rushing yards. He went on to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
In his first season at Oklahoma State, Singleton helped the Cowboys to one of the best seasons in program history, winning the Big 12, finishing 12-1 and ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll. Randle rushed for 24 touchdowns, the fourth-most in FBS that season and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors by the AP. The Cowboys’ running backs totaled 10 games of 100 yards or more.
Singleton joined the Oklahoma State staff after 11 years at Air Force where he was the running backs coach during the final five years of his tenure there. He also served as the run game coordinator from 2007-10. The Falcons led the Mountain West in rushing and ranked in the top 10 nationally each season.
In 2010, Air Force ranked second in the nation with 306.5 rushing yards per game. The team totaled 3,985 rushing yards, which was the second-best total in MWC history at the time. The Falcons also rushed for 41 touchdowns, tying the MWC record.
Singleton tutored Chad Hall in 2007, who was named MWC Offensive Player of the Year and earned third-team All-America honors. Hall rushed for 1,478 yards and totaled 2,683 all-purpose yards, helping Air Force win nine games. Hall played three seasons in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Singleton began his Air Force and coaching career shortly after graduating from the Academy in 1999 with a degree in social sciences. He served as an instructor and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at the USAFA Prep School in 2000. Singleton was then stationed at Little Rock AFB in Jacksonville, Ark., from January 2001 to January 2003 where he served as a public affairs officer.
He returned to the Academy in the spring of 2003 and served as the executive officer for the athletic director before becoming the junior varsity defensive coordinator and varsity assistant coach.
As a player, Singleton starred at Air Force where he earned three letters at halfback and earned All-Western Athletic Conference honorable mention as a senior. He helped the school win 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. Singleton is one of just six players in Air Force history to ever be elected a two-time captain.
He and his wife, Jennifer, have two daughters, Morgan and Mallory.
Arkansas closed the 2014 season winning three of its final four games against powers LSU, Ole Miss and Texas. The Razorbacks finished 7-6 with a 31-7 win over Texas in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, marking Arkansas’ first winning season since 2011.
Arkansas Hires Singleton To Complete Staff
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