New SMU coach Chad Morris is off to a youthful start in putting together his new staff with the hirings Tuesday of Clemson graduate assistants Joe Craddock and Dustin Fry as his offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, respectively, per a source.
The 29-year-old Craddock is a former Middle Tennessee State quarterback who initially joined the Clemson staff in 2012 as a player development coach. After playing quarterback in the Italian Football League, he got started coaching two years ago at Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, Ala., where he won a state championship in 2003 as a player.
Alabama-Birmingham offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent has known Craddock for years and talked to him Tuesday morning about Craddock’s new job.
“Joe is a fiery, detailed players’ coach,” Vincent said. “He is going to do a phenomenal job at SMU as a coordinator under Chad Morris. He’s going to be a phenomenal recruiter. He has tremendous relationships with players. I think the sky’s the limit for Joe. He’s going to take off in this profession. There’s no doubt.”
The 31-year-old Fry is a former NFL center who played at Clemson. He was a fifth-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2007 and bounced around the NFL for four seasons.
Fry joined Clemson’s staff as a graduate assistant in 2012. He and Craddock join new wide receivers coach Justin Stepp, who previously held the same position at Appalachian State the last three years.
Stepp also spent time at Clemson. He was a offensive video graduate assistant for the Tigers from 2009-10 before becoming an offensive graduate assistant.
All three hires are high-energy types well versed in Morris’ renown up-tempo spread offense. Winless SMU (0-11) will need all that enthusiasm for an offense that ranks last in the FBS in points scored (9.6 per game).
But Morris, a former high school coach in Texas for 16 years, who won three state titles, is confident he can quickly turnaround his new team. The Dallas native inherits a program that until last season had made four straight bowls under former coach June Jones, who quit early this season.
Morris signed a six-year contract worth approximately $2 million annually. He had one of the nation’s most prolific offenses during his four previous seasons as Clemson’s offensive coordinator.
“You’re about to see an exciting brand of football,” Morris said during his introductory press conference Monday. “We’re going to be one of the most explosive offenses and one most explosive teams in all of college football. We’re going to be one of the biggest turnarounds in college football before this is over with.”