Smith and Elko were on the defensive staff together for the 2019 season at Texas A&M University, where Smith was a defensive analyst for the Aggies during their 8-5 season, including a victory over the State No.25. of Oklahoma in the Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl Academy.
He comes to Durham after a two-year stint as defensive coordinator at Rutgers University under head coach Greg Schiano. Smith has already spent four seasons in the staff of the Scarlet Knights with Schiano from 2009 to 2012 and spent a season in his staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013).
Under Smith in 2021, Rutgers kept his opponents 52 for 162 with a third down (32.1%), the 10th best percentage nationally. That mark included nine games allowing five conversions or less with a best 1-for-14 of the season in Indiana. The Scarlett Knights also ended the season keeping their opponent within 300 total yards of attack on six different occasions and have allowed just 31 points in the fourth quarter all year.
In 2020, Smith led a Rutgers defense that recorded 19 turnovers, the most in a season since 2012, when he was previously defensive coordinator. This included at least one takeaway in eight games, several in four games and at least four in two games. The Scarlett Knights have also led the Big Ten this season and ranked No.11 nationally with 7.8 tackles for a loss per game and posted three double-digit games with a season-high 13 in a victory in Maryland. Rutgers also recorded 21 sacks, which is the most in a Big Ten season and an increase of eight from the year before.
Smith has mentored nine players to 12 All-Big Ten honors over his past two seasons, including linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi, defensive back Christian Izien and defensive lineman Julius Turner.
Prior to his 2019 season as a defensive analyst with Texas A&M, Smith served as defensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Golden Gophers allowed a total of 274 points in 2017, the least allowed by the The team since 2004. Smith has also worked with linebackers and coached Thomas Barber to the 2017 All-Big Ten honors after recording 115 tackles.
Prior to joining the Minnesota team, he spent three seasons (2014-16) at the University of Arkansas as a defensive coordinator and high school coach. Smith’s defense in 2016 was strong in the second half of games as the Razorbacks allowed just 51 points in the third quarter and 73 in the fourth. His defense also gave up just 12 passing touchdowns in 13 games, while recording 10 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries.
In 2015, Smith’s unit excelled against running, as Arkansas had 12 of 13 opponents below their season rush average. The Razorbacks allowed just 116.46 yards per game rushing, which placed them second in the SEC and 12th nationally.
A year earlier, his defensive unit ranked 10th in points in defense (19.2 points per game) and total defense (323.4 yards per game). It was the first time since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992 that the Razorbacks have finished in the top 10 in either statistical category. Additionally, Arkansas became the first unranked team in college football history to post back-to-back ranked shutouts when the Razorbacks shut out No.20 LSU and No.8 Ole Miss in November 2014.
Smith spent the 2013 season as Schiano’s linebacker coach in Tampa Bay. He coached All-Pro Lavonte David to become the first linebacker and third player since the sack became an official statistic in 1982 to record at least 100 tackles with at least six sacks and five or more interceptions in a season.
During his first stint at Piscataway, NJ, Smith held various positions on the Rutgers staff including Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach in 2012, Special Teams Coordinator and Linebackers Coach in 2011, Special Teams Coordinator and Head Coach in 2011. cornerback in 2010 and coordinator of special teams and coach of outside linebackers in 2009.
The 2012 season saw Rutgers win their first conference title since 1961 and the fifth in school history. The Scarlet Knights finished the year fourth in the nation in points against per game (14.2), sixth in rushing yards against per game (95.2), 10th for total defense (311, 6 yards per game) and tied for third in rushing touchdowns allowed (6). Rutgers allowed just 91 points against seven Big East opponents, ranking the eighth lowest in conference history. The defense kept their opponents at 95.2 rushing yards per game, marking only the third time in school history that the Scarlet Knights have kept the opponent’s average below 100 yards.
Under Smith’s mentorship, Rutgers grew into one of college football’s top special teams units. The Scarlet Knights have placed in the top 10 in blocked punters in each of their three years of unit training. Rutgers led the country in 2010 with nine blocked punters, tied for second in 2011 with nine and eighth in 2009 with five. While Smith was at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights led the nation with 31 blocked shots. They were also one of the best in the country for punt returns and punt returns for touchdowns, tied for fifth with five touchdowns on punt returns and tied for ninth with four touchdowns on kickoff returns. Their nine combined special teams touchdowns are tied for the fifth-highest total in the NCAA in that span.
Prior to his stint at Rutgers, Smith spent seven seasons at the University of Maine, serving his final three years as an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator (2006-08). He has also been on staff as Special Teams and Linebackers Coach (2005) as well as Defensive Backs Coach (2002-04). Under Smith, Maine had one of the best defenses in the FCS, highlighted by the 2006 team which placed first in run defense, second in total defense, third in sacks and fourth in goal defense.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa from 1999-2001 and received his Masters in Communication in 2002.
Smith was the recipient of a three-year safety letter for Allegheny College from 1995 to 1997, where he helped the Gators get a 28-4 score, including the outright North Coast Athletic Conference title. (NCAC) 1996 and part of the 1997 NCAC title.
Smith is married to former Amy Ruden of Le Mars, Iowa, and they are the parents of two sons, Charlie and Jack.
THE ROBB SMITH FILE
Birthplace: Leechburg, Pennsylvania.
Education: Allegheny, 1997 (economics) and Iowa, 2002 (communication studies)
Children: Charlie and Jack
Birthday: May 10, 1975
SMITH’S COACHING CAREER
- 2022-pres. – Duke (defensive coordinator / linebackers)
- 2020-21 – Rutgers (defensive coordinator)
- 2019 – Texas A&M (defensive analyst)
- 2017-18 – Minnesota (defensive / secondary coordinator)
- 2014-16 – Arkansas (defensive / secondary coordinator)
- 2013 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (secondary)
- 2012 – Rutgers (defensive / secondary coordinator)
- 2011 – Rutgers (Special Teams Coordinator / Linebackers)
- 2010 – Rutgers (Special Teams / Cornerbacks Coordinator)
- 2009 – Rutgers (special teams coordinator / outside linebackers)
- 2006-08 – Maine (Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator)
- 2005 – Maine (special teams / linebackers)
- 2002-04 – Maine (defensive back)
- 1999-2001 – Iowa (Quality Control / Defensive Graduate Assistant)