Arkansas State Red Wolves Coaching Staff 2023

Butch Jones enters his third season as the leader of an Arkansas State coaching staff that is looking to return the Red Wolves to winning ways.

Led by former Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, the Arkansas State coaching staff for the 2023 college football season sees more new faces as the Red Wolves aim to return to winning ways in the Sun Belt conference.

Arkansas State Red Wolves Coaching Staff

Head Coach, Butch Jones

Former Central Michigan, Cincinnati, and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones became the 31st leader of the Red Wolves football program when he took over at the helm of the Arkansas State coaching staff in December 2020. In his 13 seasons as a head coach, Jones boasts an 89-73 winning record, and teams under his stewardship have won four of their six bowl-game appearances.

Although he’s yet to bring that level of success to the Red Wolves program — tallying five wins in his first two seasons in Jonesboro — Jones’ impact has been felt on the program as he prepares for his third season in charge. Arkansas State had the top-ranked recruiting class in the Sun Belt in 2023, after finishing the 2022 cycle behind only Marshall in the conference.

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During his 13-season tenure as a head coach, Jones has led teams to four conference titles, winning the MAC twice with the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Big East twice with the Cincinnati Bearcats. Jones’ time in Ohio saw him win consecutive conference coach of the year accolades, once from the Big East and once from

In addition to his time spent as the head coach of Tennessee (2013-2017), Cincinnati (2010-2012), and Central Michigan (2007-2009), Jones has coached WRs, RBs, and TEs at two programs, and was the Chippewas OC from 2001-2003. He arrived on the Arkansas State coaching staff after spending three seasons working under Nick Saban at Alabama.

Offensive Coordinator, Keith Heckendorf

Keith Heckendorf joined Arkansas State’s staff as the offensive coordinator in 2019. The former standout quarterback at St. Cloud State (Minn.) — a two-time Harlon Hill Trophy finalist — took over as the QBs coach for the Red Wolves in 2020, propelling the program to a school and Sun Belt conference record 39 passing touchdowns in the disrupted 2020 season.

The Arkansas State OC is in his second stint with the Red Wolves. Heckendorf was briefly in Jonesboro in 2014 as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, which came sandwiched in between two spells on Chapel Hill with North Carolina.

Known for his high-volume and highly productive passing offenses, Heckendorf coached Mitchell Trubisky. He was the orchestrator of the 3,748 passing-yard campaign that facilitated the UNC quarterback’s second-overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Heckendorf’s full college coaching résumé can be found below.

  • Nebraska (offensive quality control, 2004; graduate assistant, 2006-2007)
  • Western Carolina (OC, QBs coach, 2008-2010)
  • North Carolina (player development, 2011-2013)
  • Arkansas State (TEs coach, recruiting coordinator, 2014)
  • North Carolina (QBs coach, recruiting coordinator, 2014-2015; QBs coach, passing game coordinator, 2016-2018)
  • Arkansas State (OC, QBs coach, 2019-2023)

Defensive Coordinator, Rob Harley

After working with one of the consistently most ferocious defenses in college football at Pitt, Rob Harley joined the Arkansas State coaching staff as defensive coordinator in 2021. Heading into his third season in Jonesboro, Harley also acts as the Red Wolves’ assistant head coach.

Under Harley’s influence, ASU’s defense saw substantial improvement between the 2021 and 2022 campaigns. They averaged more than a touchdown improvement in points allowed while allowing 100 yards less on average per game between the two seasons. Meanwhile, Kivon Bennett earned third-team All-Sun Belt recognition in 2022.

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A former safety at Ohio State, Harley began his coaching career at DII Ohio Dominican University before getting his FBS break with Michigan State. His full college coaching résumé can be found below.

  • Ohio Dominican (DBs coach, LBs coach, 2010-2011)
  • Michigan State (offense and special teams assistant, 2012; LBs and special teams assistant, 2013)
  • FIU (LBs coach, 2014)
  • Pittsburgh (LBs coach, 2015-2020; recruiting coordinator, 2017-2020)
  • Arkansas State (DC and assistant head coach, 2020-2023)

Special Teams Coordinator, Josh Conklin

A new addition to the Arkansas State staff for the 2023 season, Josh Conklin assumes the roles of special teams coordinator and safeties coach for the Red Wolves. Conklin arrives in Jonesboro after a successful stint at Wofford, where he was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year in 2019. He was also the DC at Pitt and FIU from 2013-2017.

Running Backs Coach, Marquase Lovings

Although he joined Arkansas State as the running backs coach in 2022, Marquase Lovings is extremely familiar with Sun Belt football. He served in the same role at Louisiana from 2011-2016.

In a varied coaching career that began at the high school level, Lovings has also worked on both sides of the ball during stints at Mississippi State, Nicholls State, and Austin Peay.

Tight Ends Coach, Nick Grimes

Another new face in Jonesboro, Nick Grimes joins the Arkansas State coaching staff for the 2023 CFB season as the tight ends coach. He was most recently the TEs coach at UAB, but also spent time as the offensive coordinator at FCS Campbell.

Grimes received his first college coaching role with Cincinnati after serving as an offensive coordinator for two Texas high schools.

Offensive Line Coach, Andy Kwon

After originally joining Arkansas State’s staff as the tight ends coach in 2021, Andy Kwon transitioned to OL duties for the 2022 campaign. A two-time All-Sun Belt offensive lineman with Georgia Southern, Kwon was a graduate assistant at Akron in 2017. He arrived in Jonesboro after spending three seasons on the Alabama coaching staff as an OL grad assistant.

Wide Receivers Coach, Derrick Lett

Derrick Lett joined the Arkansas State coaching staff as the WRs coach in 2021, having previously spent six years as the RBs coach at Yale. His appointment to the Red Wolves reunited him with Jones after the pair worked together at Tennessee from 2013-2014.

A former wide receiver at Bowling Green, Lett got his coaching break with Bowling Green High School.

Defensive Line Coach, Vinson Reynolds

In addition to being the DL coach, Vinson Reynolds also serves as the defensive run game coordinator on Arkansas State’s coaching staff. An experienced college coach, Reynolds has spent time with Syracuse, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Central Oklahoma, Wisconsin-Platteville, and Oklahoma State. He also has two NFL internships on his résumé.

Linebackers Coach, Jon Shalala

A former NAIA National Championship-winning QB at Grand View University, Jon Shalala spent his early coaching career on the offensive side of the ball before switching to defense as a defensive graduate assistant in 2016. After spending time as a defensive quality control coach at Mississippi State, Shalala joined the Arkansas State coaching staff as the linebackers coach in 2021.

Defensive Backs Coach, Jay Simpson

A former cornerbacks coach at UAB, Jay Simpson joined Arkansas State as defensive backs coach and defensive pass game coordinator for the 2022 season. Formerly a two-year starting CB at South Alabama, Simpson served on the Jaguars’ coaching staff from 2014-2015 before joining UAB as a graduate assistant in 2016.