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Sources: JuCo head coach to join Arkansas staff

Hutchinson Community College head coach Rion Rhoades is set to join the Arkansas staff, sources told FootballScoop on Tuesday.

Located in Hutchinson, Kan., Hutchinson competes in the influential Jayhawk Conference, which produces dozens of FBS players each season.

Rhoades' role on Sam Pittman's staff is not finalized; but we are told he is expected to coach linebackers. He would need to join the Razorbacks' on-the-field staff to avoid tripping the IAWP rule, which would bar Arkansas from recruiting any Hutchinson players for the next two years.

Pittman and Rhoades have a relationship dating back nearly 20 years, when Pittman was Hutchinson's head coach and Rhoades a linebacker on his Blue Dragons teams. Rhoades' bio at Hutchinson CC explains the connection:

When Sam Pittman took over the Blue Dragon football program in 1992, he was taking over a struggling team in much the same way that Rhoades took over the Blue Dragons. In the three previous years before Pittman, the Blue Dragons were a paltry 5-22. Pittman’s 1992 Blue Dragons finished 5-4-1 for HCC’s first winning season since 1985.

Among the 1993 recruiting class was a 5-foot-11, 220-pound linebacker from Liberal named Rion Rhoades.

Rhoades jumped into the starting lineup right away and tallied 138 tackles in his freshman season. He helped the Blue Dragons finish 6-5 overall, place third in the Jayhawk Conference and clinch a home Jayhawk Conference playoff game for the first time in school history. The Dragons advanced all the way to the Jayhawk semifinals, which clinched the team’s first bowl berth since 1971 with a spot in the 1993 Valley of the Sun Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Rhoades was an All-Jayhawk Conference honorable mention selection in 1993.

Rhoades has been the head coach at his alma mater since 2007, going 99-50 with 10 postseason appearances over that time. The Blue Dragons went 10-2 with a win in the Salt City Bowl in 2019.

Pittman was Hutchinson's head coach from 1992-93, going 11-9-1. He left in 1994 to become the offensive line coach at Northern Illinois, a move that eventually led to the Arkansas head coaching job.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.