|Position:||Assistant Coach - Outside LBs/Special Teams|
|Alma Mater:||Northern Michigan|
Jovan Dewitt is in his second season as Nebraska's outside linebacker coach and special teams coordinator. Dewitt owns a wealth of knowledge with 21 years of collegiate experience.
Dewitt boasts nine seasons of experience as a defensive coordinator and six years as a special teams coordinator. He has coached linebackers and special teams in each of Scott Frost's four seasons as a head coach. Dewitt, who succeeded Frost as Northern Iowa's defensive coordinator in 2009, also served as Frost's associate head coach 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 each of the last three seasons and has tutored two conference defensive players of the year in the past eight years, including one national defensive player of the year.
As special teams coordinator, Dewitt's units have six combined punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns in the past three seasons. Each of the last two punters Dewitt has tutored have earned all-conference accolades, while his place-kickers have combined to make better than 75 percent of their field goal tries over the last three seasons.
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 TFLs and 5.5 sacks in 2018, 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 TFLs 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 1.0 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 and record the program’s most turnovers (20) in four seasons.
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 Isaac 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.
UCF: 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 Central Florida ranking third nationally with 58 combined takeaways in the 2016 and 2017 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 Central Florida 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 in 45 percent of his punts the 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.
ARMY: Before joining Frost’s staff in Orlando, Dewitt was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Army West Point in 2014 and 2015. As special teams coordinator, Dewitt helped the Black Knights combine for seven blocked kicks in his two seasons.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC: Dewitt spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Florida Atlantic, 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.
NORTHERN IOWA: Dewitt replaced Frost as Northern Iowa's defensive coordinator in 2009 and spent three seasons with the Panthers. 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.
ST. NORBERT, NORTHERN MICHIGAN, FAIRMONT STATE & FORT SCOTT CC: 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 2005. 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 2001, 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.
2018: Nebraska, Assistant Coach (Outside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator)
2016-17: Central Florida, Associate Head Coach (Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator)
2014-15: Army West Point, Assistant Coach (Special Teams Coordinator/Outside Linebackers)
2013: Florida Atlantic, Interim Defensive Coordinator
2012-13: Florida Atlantic, Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
2009-11: Northern Iowa, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
2006-08: St. Norbert, Defensive Coordinator
2004-05: Northern Michigan, Defensive Coordinator
2003: Fairmont State, Assistant Coach (Special Teams)
2002: Fort Scott CC, Assistant Coach
2000-01: Northern Michigan, Graduate Assistant/Running Backs/Academic Coordinator
1997: Northern Michigan, Student Assistant/Defensive Line