“I’ve been able to watch Robb Smith grow in the profession, and I know he’ll bring in an attacking defensive philosophy that is built specifically to stop offenses in the SEC,” Coach Bielema said. “Robb has been promoted time and time again at every place he’s been. With his background, he captivates a room no matter where he is and players gravitate towards him. He’s demonstrated an understanding of what it takes to build a team into a championship program.”
Smith spent the 2013 season as linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 14 years of collegiate coaching experience, which included four seasons at Rutgers University where he was defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 2012. That season, Rutgers ranked fourth in the nation in points allowed per game (14.2), sixth in rush yards allowed per game (95.2), 10th in total defense (311.6 yards per game) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns allowed (6).
Last season in Tampa Bay, Smith coached second-year linebacker Lavonte David. David was named a first-team All-Pro in 2013, one of just 12 defensive players in the NFL recognized on the first-team defense, after he started all 16 games and recorded 144 tackles, including 6.0 sacks, five interceptions, 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, David was the first linebacker in NFL history and third player to register at least 100 tackles with at least six sacks and five or more interceptions in a season, joining Rodney Harrison in 2000 and Dave Duerson in 1986.
The 2012 season saw Rutgers claim its first conference title since 1961 and the fifth in school history. Rutgers allowed just 91 points against seven Big East opponents in Smith’s season as defensive coordinator, which ranked as the eight-lowest total in conference history. The defense held opponents to 95.2 rushing yards per game, which marked only the third time in school history the Scarlet Knights kept the opponent average below 100 yards.
While at Rutgers, Smith coached linebacker Khaseem Greene who became an All-American and was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. As a junior in 2011, Greene switched from safety to weak side linebacker. He led the Big East Conference with 141 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. As a senior in 2012, Greene recorded 136 tackles, including 12 for loss with six sacks, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries with two returned for touchdowns. He was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year and was named a first-team All-American by ESPN. Greene’s 15 career forced fumbles stand as the NCAA record.
Prior to 2012, Smith served in various capacities on the Rutgers staff including special teams coordinator and linebackers coach in 2011, special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach in 2010 and special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach in 2009.
Under Smith’s guidance, Rutgers became one of the best special teams units in college football. The Scarlet Knights ranked in the top 10 in blocked punts each of his three years coordinating the unit. Rutgers led the country in 2010 with nine blocked punts, tied for second in 2011 with nine and ranked eighth in 2009 with five. While Smith was at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights led the nation with 31 blocked punts. They were also one of the best in the nation in punt and kick returns for touchdowns, tying for fifth with five punt return touchdowns and tying for ninth with four kickoff return touchdowns. Their nine combined special teams touchdowns tied for the fifth-highest total in the NCAA during that time.
Before coming to Rutgers, Smith worked at the University of Maine as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator (2006-08), special teams and linebackers coach (2005) and defensive backs coach (2002-04). Under Smith, Maine boasted one of the top defenses in the FCS, highlighted by the 2006 team that ranked first in rush defense, second in total defense, third in sacks and fourth in scoring defense.
A 1997 graduate of Allegheny (Pa.) College with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Smith was a three-year letterwinner at strong safety. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with Iowa from 1999-2001 and earned his master’s degree in communications from Iowa in 2002.