JONESBORO, AR (A-STATE) – Arkansas State head football coach announced Thursday that Darren Hiller and DeAndre Smith, who have a combined 39 years coaching experience at the collegiate level between them, have joined the Red Wolves’ coaching staff as the offensive line and running backs coaches, respectively.
“We’re excited to add two quality coaches the caliber of Darren and DeAndre to our coaching staff,” said Anderson. “They both bring a wealth of experience with them and are well respected for their coaching and recruiting abilities, as well as their involvement in the community.”
Hiller returns to Arkansas State for his second stint as the offensive line coach, overseeing the same position with the Red Wolves from 2002-11. He also acted as A-State’s run game coordinator in 2011, a role he will now be resuming in addition to his other responsibilities.
He most recently spent the last three seasons as the offensive line coach at Cincinnati, helping lead the Bearcats to three consecutive bowl games, 25 victories and an American Athletic Conference championship in 2014.
Cincinnati ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation in total offense every season during Hiller’s tenure, including sixth in 2015. Behind the strength of Hiller’s offensive line, Cincinnati ranked among the top 23 teams in the nation twice in sacks allowed per game. Hiller coached five All-American Athletic Conference offensive linemen, including three in 2015, who earned the recognition a combined seven times.
Prior to joining Cincinnati, Hiller spent one season as the offensive line coach at Nevada in 2012. The offensive line cleared the way that year for 271 rushing yards per game, which ranked seventh in the NCAA FBS while allowing only 18 sacks. Offensive tackle Jeff Nady was a First-Team All-Mountain West Conference honoree, while Joel Bitonio was an honorable-mention all-league selection.
Hiller went to Nevada after a successful decade-long run at Arkansas State. While in Jonesboro, Hiller and the Red Wolves picked up a 2011 Sun Belt Conference championship, including a 10-2 regular-season record and an appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. He coached 16 All-Sun Belt Conference players, including an NFL Draft selection and five NFL free agents.
Prior to joining A-State, Hiller spent two seasons at Arkansas-Monticello before moving on to one season at Northwestern State University. While at UAM, Hiller helped the team finish in the top five in Division II in total offense and scoring offense. During that time, UAM also broke 30 offensive school records.
A two-year starter at offensive guard at West Texas A&M, he also coached there from 1994-98 and helped his teams to national rankings in Division II and led that division in several offensive categories. Hiller earned his bachelor’s degree from West Texas A&M University in 1994.
Smith brings 17 years coaching experience with him to the Red Wolves, most recently serving the last three seasons as Syracuse’s running backs coach. He also spent time at New Mexico (2012 and 2008), Illinois (2010-11) and UNLV (2009) in the same role.
Prior to UNLV, he acted as the running backs coach and assistant head coach at Miami (Ohio) from 2005-07, which followed time at Northern Illinois from 2001-04 as the running backs coach and special teams assistant and Indiana State from 1999-2000 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
During his 17 years of collegiate coaching, Smith has mentored four All-Americans and nine 1,000-yard rushers. He coached All-ACC selection Jerome Smith in 2013 while helping lead Syracuse to the Texas Bowl championship.
Smith also helped lead Illinois to two bowl game championships, including the Fight Hunger Bowl in 2011 and the Texas Bowl in 2010. While at Northern Illinois, he helped lead the Huskies to an appearance in the 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl.
Among the 1,000-yard rushers Smith has tutored was New Mexico’s Kasey Carrier, who was an All-Mountain West Conference selection in 2012 after ranking 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game (122.4). His first stint at New Mexico in 2008 saw him direct Rodney Ferguson to 1,105 rushing yards and All-Mountain West recognition.
Smith’s 2010 season at Illinois saw him coach second-team All-American and All-Big Ten First Team choice Mikel LeShoure. The standout back set Illinois single-season records for rushing yards (1,697), points scored (122) and touchdowns (20) that year.
During his time at Northern Illinois, Smith coached two players who earned three All-America awards and were MAC rushing champions in Michael Turner (2002 and 2003) and Garrett Wolfe (2004). Wolfe ranked fifth nationally in rushing (1,656 yards) and was selected in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, while Turner was taken by the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 draft.
Smith was a four-year letterman at his alma mater, Missouri State, where he was a 1990 All-America selection after earning the NCAA Division I-AA Player of the Year award. He was later named the Gateway Conference Offensive Player of the Decade for 1985-95.