Courtesy: Athletic Media Relations
Steve Caldwell is in his third season on the Razorback coaching staff coaching defensive ends and was promoted to special teams coordinator in December, 2011.
During the 2011 season, the defensive ends spent much of their time in opponents' backfields. Jake Bequette, Tenarius Wright, Trey Flowers and Chris Smith combined for 27.0 tackles for loss and 16.0 sacks. Bequette, a first-team All-SEC selection by the conference's coaches, led the SEC and tied for third in the NCAA with his average of 1.0 sack per game and topped the conference with an average of 0.5 forced fumbles per game that tied for fourth in the nation.
Bequette was named Defensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl after collecting three tackles, 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. He finished his career with 23.5 sacks, which ranked as the third-highest career total in school history. Flowers was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after collecting 28 tackles, 5.5 for loss with 1.0 sack, two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry in his first collegiate season.
Bequette was a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2012 NFL Draft and became the 13th draft pick tutored by Caldwell in his career and the eighth taken in the first three rounds.
Caldwell was named special teams coordinator prior to the Cotton Bowl and oversaw the Razorbacks' efforts in the 29-16 victory vs. No. 11 Kansas State. Joe Adams returned a punt 51 yards for a touchdown, the first punt return touchdown in the Cotton Bowl since 1961, which gave him an SEC single-season-record-tying four in 2011. Kicker Zach Hocker was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, tying a Cotton Bowl record for made field goals, and punter Dylan Breeding averaged 46.8 yards per punt on four punts, with two being downed inside the five-yard line.
The defensive front made its presence known for the Razorbacks in 2010. Arkansas averaged 2.85 sacks and 7.31 tackles for loss per game to rank second in the Southeastern Conference and ninth in the NCAA in both categories. Bequette was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press and the conference's coaches. Bequette and Wright led all UA defensive linemen with 8.5 and 8.0 tackles for loss, respectively. The Razorbacks made 95 tackles for loss in 2010, which tied for the second-highest total in school history. Arkansas notched the third-highest single-season sack total (37) en route to the first BCS appearance in program history.
Before Arkansas, Caldwell spent 14 seasons at Tennessee, where he helped the defensive ends maintain a standard of excellence. The Vols' defense was ranked in the top four among league schools in total defense 10 times while he was at Tennessee, and UT's defensive unit led the SEC in fewest rushing yards allowed three times during that span. In 2008, the unit ranked first in the conference and tied for third nationally in total defense allowing 263.5 yards per game. In 2005, Caldwell helped spark the Vols' defense to the best rushing average allowed in the SEC (82.5), which ranked second nationally.
Caldwell also earned deserved credit for his work on the recruiting front, helping Tennessee sign what many observers called some of the nation's top recruiting classes on an annual basis.
Caldwell advanced several Vols into the NFL, joining such former stalwarts as Shaun Ellis, Demetri Veal and Parys Haralson.
Among Caldwell's most accomplished pupils was Will Overstreet, who not only finished his UT career with 19 sacks to tie for eighth on the all-time school list, but also mirrored the coach's emphasis on studies by being named to the 2001 Academic All-America second team. After retiring from professional football, Overstreet returned to campus and completed his undergraduate degree in May 2005.
A dean's list student himself at Arkansas State, Caldwell played four years of football for the Indians as a defensive end and linebacker.
His first taste of coaching came over three seasons at his alma mater, from 1978-80. From Jonesboro, Caldwell moved on to Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he coached the offensive line for four seasons and was part of a national championship team in 1982.
He then went back to Arkansas State, coaching linebackers under head coach Larry Lacewell during a notable period of success for the Indians. Arkansas State advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals three straight seasons from 1985-87, including a 1986 squad that finished 12-2-1 and lost in the national championship game. The Indians' only other blemishes that season were a loss to Mississippi State and a tie against Ole Miss.
Caldwell's 1985 linebacking unit helped Arkansas State lead Division I-AA in total defense with an average of only 258.8 yards allowed per game.
Subsequent jobs took him to Tennessee, Pacific and Nevada, the latter school as co-defensive coordinator for the 1994 Big West Conference champions. Caldwell coached briefly at Mississippi before accepting an offer to join the Vols.
Caldwell and his wife, Leisa Henley Caldwell, are the parents of three children, Lauren, Lendl and Landon. They have one son-in-law, Josh Rudd, and two granddaughters, Cayman and Reese Rudd.
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