Kirk Botkin was the first All-SEC player at Arkansas. He was the tight end in 1992 when the Hogs rolled into the SEC with few quality SEC players.
But that historical fact was not among the things Botkin talked to in an almost three-hour interview with new Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino in a Dallas hotel conference room.
"I didn't mention it," Botkin said. "It didn't come up. We talked about coaching linebackers and coaching special teams all that time."
Botkin had never met Petrino, but got his interview because of a high recommendation by former Arkansas head coach Jack Crowe.
"I think a few people called Coach Petrino on my behalf," Botkin said. "I think Coach Crowe's phone call carried a lot of weight."
Petrino confirmed that he had several phone calls from Botkins' people and that there was one that he held high because of the respect they held in each other. That would have been Crowe.
Botkin never played defense at Arkansas, or in the NFL in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he said when Crowe asked him to switch from coaching the offensive line (tackles and tight ends) to outside linebackers after one season at Jacksonville State, he didn't flinch.
"Everyone always said I played and coached with a defensive mentality," he said. "And, I figure if you played and coached tight ends you knew what the outside linebackers were doing. And, if you were going to coach the outside linebackers, you already knew what the tight ends were trying to do to you. I didn't care. I really liked it."
Botkin will handle defensive ends for the Hogs and will also coordinate all areas of special teams. He played all areas of special teams in the NFL.
"I did a little bit of everything in the NFL," he said. "I played tight end, H-back, flexed out at wide receiver some and I played on all the special teams."
Botkin also finished his UA career as the deep snapper, taking over those duties when Danny Ford came in as a consultant to interim head coach Joe Kines.
"Coach Ford was trying to find a deep snapper (after the Hogs had punts blocked), and they were looking at anyone out there, including quarterbacks," Botkin said. "I had never done it. Coach Ford was spitting to the side, and just saying, 'Get in there and throw it back there. Now, see if you can throw it back there a little harder.' So that's how I got into deep snapping. I think that helped me get to the NFL. You do anything you can to hang on in the NFL."
Coaching special teams at Arkansas was part of the attraction in Botkin's move back to Fayetteville.
"I will coach all six areas of special teams," he said. "It won't be split up like in the past. I know Bobby Allen coached the punt cover team. I will ask for all eyes from the rest of the staff except for the coordinators. But it's going to be me doing it and coordinating it. I'm going to do it. It will be attention to detail by me.
"That means I'll coach the kicker and the punter, too. That's what I've done. I've never done either one (as a player), but I've picked up on it and coached them. Todd Wright and I were GAs together at Rice."
Botkin said he's always wanted to return to his alma mater. He's inquired at every opportunity over the past few years. He called Houston Nutt several times when there were openings.
"Both Kim Dameron (now at Ole Miss under Nutt) came back a few times for the lettermen's reunion and we called, too," Botkin said. "The timing just never was right or it wasn't a right fit. But you always want to come back. This is a great place."
Botkin thinks his roots will help him at Arkansas, and he's not talking about playing for the Hogs. A native of Baytown, Texas, Botkin will recruit Houston and the Beaumont area in Texas.
"I think the talent pool is just so large in Texas," Botkin said. "When I was at Arkansas, and before, there were always some good Texas players on this team. Obviously, there are a lot of players there and they start playing football in Texas when they are little bitty. I think we have to spend a lot of time recruiting there. I know that's going to be my area. I've always gone back there to recruit, no matter where I coached."
Botkin excited about return to Arkansas
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