Special teams coordinator Jovan Dewitt leaving Huskers for North Carolina

From: North Carolina Athletics

The University of North Carolina football program has named 21-year coaching veteran Jovan Dewitt special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach, head coach Mack Brown announced on Monday. Dewitt joins Brown’s staff after a two-year stint as special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach at Nebraska (2018-19).
 

 “We’re excited to add Jovan, his wife Lisa, and their three children, Maya, Kira and Jovan Jr., to the Carolina football family,” Brown said. “Jovan brings a wealth of experience in special teams and is known as one of the best special teams coaches in the nation. He also has a long history coaching linebackers, and because he spent time working with Coach Bateman at Army, he’s familiar with what we’re trying to do on defense, which should really help us. For those reasons, we felt like he would be an excellent addition to our staff. We expect Jovan to have a positive impact on both of those areas, as well as recruiting, and we look forward to having the Dewitt family in Chapel Hill.”

 
Dewitt boasts nine seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator and seven years as a special teams coordinator. He also has 11 years of experience coaching linebackers. Dewitt also served as associate head coach under Scott Frost at UCF.
 
Dewitt has been a part of several top defenses in his career, including coordinating a Florida Atlantic unit that ranked 11th nationally in total defense in 2013. Dewitt has also excelled at player development, as he has coached an all-conference linebacker in three of the last four seasons and has tutored two conference defensive players of the year in the past nine years, including one national defensive player of the year.
 
“I want to first off thank Coach Brown and the Carolina administration for presenting me and my family with this opportunity,” stated Dewitt. “I’ve long admired Coach Brown and what he stands for, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with him and the rest of the staff at UNC. It’s clear this is a program on the rise and I’m looking forward to doing my part to continue the positive momentum created last season. We can’t wait to get to Chapel Hill, meet all of the people and players, and get to work.”
 
As special teams coordinator, Dewitt’s units have seven combined punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns in the past four seasons and his punt return team has blocked four punts over the last two years. Two of the last three punters Dewitt has tutored have earned all-conference accolades.
 
While at Nebraska in 2019, Dewitt guided a special teams unit that blocked three punts, while returning a punt for a touchdown. The punt coverage unit finished seventh nationally after allowing just 2.3 yards per return. Punter Isaac Armstrong averaged 40.9 yards per punt, including 11 of 50 or more yards, while landing 23 of his 59 punts inside the 20. Outside linebacker JoJo Domann finished fifth on the team in tackles with 52, while posting 2.5 sacks and nine TFL, which ranked second on the team. Domann added two forced fumbles, while fellow OLB Alex Davis recorded an INT, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, helping the Huskers force 21 turnovers, the programs most in five seasons.
 
In 2018, Dewitt helped a pair of upperclassmen post career-best seasons. An All-Big Ten performer, Luke Gifford totaled 62 tackles and led Nebraska with 13 TFL and 5.5 sacks, after producing 47 tackles, six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in his first three seasons combined. Gifford posted the most sacks by a Husker linebacker in 13 seasons and recorded the most TFL by any Husker in four seasons. Tyrin Ferguson also put up career numbers in his junior season, despite being limited to eight games due to injury. Ferguson had 36 tackles, six tackles for loss and one sack under Dewitt’s guidance in 2018 after totaling eight career tackles in his first two seasons combined. The play of Dewitt’s linebackers helped Nebraska nearly double its sack total from the 2017 season.
 
As special teams coordinator, Dewitt’s units showed continued improvement throughout the season. Nebraska returned its first punt for a touchdown in four seasons in 2018 and blocked its first punt in three years, with the blocked punt resulting in a safety. Individually, JD Spielman ranked sixth nationally in punt return touchdowns, while Armstrong, who took over the Husker punting duties midway through the season, ranked second in the Big Ten and ninth in Nebraska history in punting average (43.6 yards per punt). Armstrong was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection while true freshman place-kicker Barret Pickering connected on 14-of-18 field goals and made his final 10 attempts of the season.
 
In two seasons at UCF, Dewitt helped Frost and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander turn around the Knight defense. The UCF staff inherited a unit that ranked among the nation’s bottom 10 defenses in both scoring and total defense in 2015. But in just two seasons, Dewitt helped the Knights improve their scoring defense ranking by 65 spots, as UCF went from allowing 37.7 points per game in 2015 to 25.3 points per game in 2017. Dewitt’s linebackers also played a role in UCF ranking third nationally with 58 combined takeaways in the 2016 and ’17 seasons.
 
During the Knights’ run to a perfect season and conference title in 2017, Dewitt’s linebackers helped UCF lead the AAC in defensive touchdowns, while ranking third in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. Two of Dewitt’s four starting linebackers earned all-conference accolades in 2017, when the Knights posted the first perfect season in AAC history and were the only undefeated team in the country. Butkus Award candidate Shaquem Griffin was a first-team all-league selection and was the only player to be a unanimous All-AAC pick. Griffin went on to be a fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
 
In Dewitt’s first season at UCF in 2016, his linebacking corps played a lead role in the Knights ranking in the top 10 nationally in four defensive categories and in the top 25 in nine categories. UCF ranked second nationally in red zone defense, sixth in third-down defense, ninth in tackles for loss, 17th in sacks, 18th in turnovers forced and 24th in fumbles recovered. The defense was the key to UCF leading the nation with a six-win improvement from the 2015 to 2016 season. Griffin was named the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after ranking ninth nationally in tackles for loss (20.0) and 11th in sacks (11.5).
 
Dewitt also made an impact as special teams coordinator. UCF ranked fourth nationally in kickoff returns in 2017 and sixth in punt returns. Individually, Mike Hughes ranked third nationally in kickoff returns and was fourth with two kickoff return touchdowns. Punter Mac Loudermilk pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line on 45 percent of his punts during two seasons working with Dewitt, while kicker Matthew Wright connected on 17 field goals in 2016 and was named to the 2017 Lou Groza Award watch list.
 
Before joining the UCF staff, Dewitt was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Army in 2014 and ’15. As special teams coordinator, Dewitt helped the Black Knights combine for seven blocked kicks in his two seasons.
 
Dewitt spent the 2012 and ’13 seasons at FAU, where he coached the linebackers and served as the interim defensive coordinator midway through the 2013 season. The Owls ranked 11th nationally in total defense that season and were second in pass defense and eighth in fewest first downs allowed. FAU also set a school record with 32 sacks in 2013 and cornerback D’Joun Smith was second nationally in passes defended and third in interceptions.
 
At Northern Iowa, Dewitt served as defensive coordinator for three seasons. UNI reached the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs twice and posted a 24-11 record in Dewitt’s three seasons. He coached linebacker LJ Fort to All-America honors and Fort was the 2011 FCS National Defensive Player of the Year. In Fort’s 2012 NFL debut, he became the first player since 1996 to record a sack and an interception in his first career NFL game.
 
Before moving up to the FCS level, Dewitt was the defensive coordinator at Division III St. Norbert for three seasons (2006-08). He also served as defensive coordinator at Division II Northern Michigan, his alma mater, in 2004 and ’05. In 2003, Dewitt was an assistant coach at Division II Fairmont State, and his first full-time coaching job was as an assistant coach at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College in 2002. Dewitt also served as a graduate assistant at Northern Michigan in 2000 and ’01, and he was a student assistant with the Wildcats in 1997.
 
As a player at Northern Michigan, Dewitt was a two-time All-American and the 1996 Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He played three seasons in the Arena Football League following his college career.
 
Dewitt earned his degree in physics and mathematics from Northern Michigan in 1999. He turned down an opportunity to work at NASA following graduation, instead opting to enter the coaching profession. Jovan and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters, Maya and Kira, and one son, Jovan Jr.
 

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