Nebraska assistant coach Jovan Dewitt is leaving the program to accept an assistant coaching position on Mack Brown’s staff with the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC tweeted the news Monday morning.
Join us in welcoming our new special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt (@Coach_Dewitt)!
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) January 6, 2020
Dewitt, also the special teams coordinator for Nebraska these last two seasons, came over with head coach Scott Frost from UCF. A linebacker coach and special teams coordinator at Army West Point in 2014 and 2015, Dewitt was a man Frost wanted on his initial UCF staff. He succeeded Frost as Northern Iowa’s defensive coordinator when Frost left for Oregon in 2009, and then joined the fold as Frost’s associate head coach in 2016.
It’s not immediately clear who Nebraska will target as a replacement, but with the beginning of spring ball still a few months away, the Huskers might not necessarily be in any rush.
Nebraska, both the football program and the state, will surely miss the Northern Michigan grad.
Frost talks often about the sense of family amongst his staff. With the exception of Tony Tuioti, hired last spring to replace Mike Dawson on the defensive line after Dawson took a job with the New York Giants, the staff here in Lincoln is the staff that built Orlando up with Frost. And the family was tested this past year.
In February, it was shared that Dewitt was battling a form of throat cancer. The initial diagnosis was optimistic, but intense treatment sessions caused him to be away from the football team more than he would have liked.
On the advice of his doctors, he wasn’t supposed to spend any time in the Hawks Championship Center during spring ball, but Dewitt had his wife or his grad assistant drive him to the office so he could at least be around. He only missed one practice, and that was for a doctor’s appointment he couldn’t postpone.
“When I can get out on the field, it allows me to alleviate my mind from some of the other worries and things like that,” Dewitt said last March. “I’m not one for sitting around the couch and hanging out and just sleeping and then throwing up and sleeping and then throwing up and doing all those things. For me to be able to get out in the yard, it makes life so much better for me. A lot better.”
In May, Dewitt took to the Husker Sports Nightly radio show to announce he was officially cancer-free.
Still, specific special teams duties were handed off to an assistant this past season, and Nebraska will surely be looking to show improvement in a unit that struggled mightily in 2019. It’s unclear whether Frost will look to hire another outside linebacker coach who will also manage special teams or look to change things up. Tuioti has experience coaching outside ‘backers from his days at Cal.
When Dawson left, the Huskers needed just 14 days before announcing Tuioti’s hire—the only other new hire Frost has made since first assembling his staff in 2016. The expectation at that time was that Frost would look for someone with a connection to another member on his staff, but Tuioti came absent any. Frost could take a similar approach again this time around.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.