The knock against Charlie Strong’s original coaching staff at Texas was that it lacked a Texan flavor.
He has taken measures to correct that idea.
On Wednesday, Strong completed his staff’s rebuild with the hiring of Waco native Clay Jennings, who has coached defensive backs at TCU, Baylor, Houston and Sam Houston.
“It’s an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to coach in my home state and represent one of the nation’s premier football programs,” Jennings said in a statement. “I’m excited to be a part of the Longhorn family and ecstatic to have the chance to join Coach Strong’s staff.”
Jennings, who spent the past two seasons at Arkansas, joins offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert (San Angelo) and running backs coach Anthony Johnson (Jefferson) as Texas natives Strong has brought on staff since the end of the 2015 season. Those additions come one year after Strong made it a point to improve high school relations in the state by appointing Jeff Traylor, who won three state titles Gilmer, to coach tight ends.
Another new assistant, offensive line coach Matt Mattox, may not fit the description of a Texan because he was brought up in Kansas, but he played at Houston from 2002-03.
New receivers coach Charlie Williams once coached at TCU, though that was 25 some years ago.
Jennings, 42, is about as Texas as you can get. Before launching his coaching career, he was a four-year letterwinner at North Texas as a defensive lineman. He stayed at UNT for two years as an unpaid assistant before taking full-time positions at Morehouse (1998), Morningside (1999), Southern Arkansas (2000), Sam Houston (2001-02), Louisiana-Lafayette (2003-04), Houston (2005-06), Baylor (2007) and TCU (2008-13).
At Arkansas, Jennings helped the Razorbacks finish 58th (2015) and 10th (2014) in total defense. Among his better days came in the Texas Bowl after the 2014 season when Arkansas held Texas to 59 yards of total offense.
Jennings’ recruiting successes include helping Arkansas edge Texas this year for Beaumont Central running back Devwah Whaley.
“Clay has a tremendous track record for developing defensive backs and has coached in a lot of great defenses,” Strong said in a statement. “He’s knowledgeable, personable, brings a lot of energy and is a coach our staff all thought fit in really well with us. On top of that, he’s from Texas, has years of experience coaching here and already has great relationships across the state. That’s a big advantage for him to get in here and get going right away.”
Jennings replaces Chris Vaughn, whom Texas dismissed last week after Vaughn was implicated in an ongoing NCAA investigation at Ole Miss.