Chavis named defensive coordinator

John Chavis, a veteran defensive coordinator with 20 years of experience in the Southeastern Conference, has been tabbed as LSU's defensive coordinator, head coach Les Miles announced on Monday.

"John Chavis is a tremendous coach who has had a great deal of success over a long period of time in the SEC," LSU coach Les Miles said. "You look back at what he's been able to accomplish defensively at Tennessee over the past 14 years and it's hard not to be impressed.

"Year in and year out, his defenses at Tennessee have been among the best not only in our conference, but nationwide. He's going to bring to LSU a style of coaching and an ability to relate to our players that will breed success. We are excited to have him on board."

Chavis, who spent the past 14 years as the defensive coordinator at Tennessee, has established himself as one of the top defensive coaches in college football. In 14 years as the defensive coordinator for the Vols, Tennessee ranked among the top four in the SEC in total defense 10 times.

Furthermore, during his 14 seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Vols, Tennessee won at least nine games 11 times, reaching double-figures in victories eight times during that span. Tennessee won a school-record 13 games on its way to capturing the BCS National Championship in 1998. The Vols had 11 wins 1995, 1997, and 2001 and they won 10 games in 1996, 2003, 2004, and 2007.

The Vols also participated in 12 bowl games since the 1995 season, including three appearances in BCS bowl games. The Vols made appearances in the SEC Championship Game five times during Chavis' tenure as defensive coordinator, winning the league title in 1997 and 1998.

Some of the highlights during his career with the Vols include leading the SEC in yards allowed (236.6) and scoring (14.3) in 1996; two years later during their national championship run, the Vols ranked No. 2 in the SEC in total yards allowed, passing and rushing yards allowed and scoring defense.

Tennessee was first in the SEC in rushing yards allowed in both 2000 and 2001, holding opponents to 74.3 and 85.3 yards, respectively. The Vols again led the SEC in rushing defense in 2005, limiting opponents to 82.5 yards a contest. Since the 1995 season, only Florida has led the SEC in rushing defense more times (4) than Tennessee (3).

Despite a 5-7 mark in 2008, Tennessee's defense was not only among the best in the SEC, but also one of the top units in the country. The Vols ranked No. 2 in the SEC and No. 3 in the nation in total defense, allowing 263.5 yards per game. The Vols were also No. 2 in the league and No. 4 in the nation in pass defense with 160.4 yards per contest.

Other coaching accomplishments for Chavis at Tennessee include coaching four linebackers to first-team All-America honors in Leonard Little (1997), Al Wilson (1998), Raynoch Thompson (1999) and Kevin Burnett (2004). All four of those players were selected in the NFL Draft with Wilson being a first round selection. Chavis also coached Jerod Mayo, who was the 10th player taken in the 2008 NFL Draft and recently named as the 2008 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

On the conference level, Chavis has helped develop 24 players into first-team All-SEC selections since 1995.

Individually, Chavis was named the recipient of the coveted American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year honor in 2006.

A 31-year coaching veteran at the collegiate level, Chavis got his start as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1979. After a year with the Vols, Chavis then moved to Alabama A&M from 1980-83 as the defensive line coach. Chavis jumped to Alabama State from 1984-85 serving as the defensive coordinator before moving back to Alabama A&M from 1986-88. Alabama A&M ranked No. 1 in Division II in total defense in both 1987 and 1988.

Chavis returned to his Alma Mater in 1989 season, serving as the defensive line and linebackers coach. He held that position until 1995 when he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

Chavis, who is originally from Dillon, S.C., is married to the former Diane Crisp. They are the parents of sons, John and Jason.


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