Johnny Chavis

Johnny Chavis (born October 16, 1956 in Dillon, South Carolina), commonly known as The Chief, is the defensive coordinator, linebacker Coach and associate head football coach at the University of Tennessee, where he has been since 1989. Chavis is the only Native American that is currently a Coordinator or Head Coach for a major college or NFL team.

Coaching career


Named defensive coordinator at UT in 1995, Chavis has gained recognition as a defensive guru the old-fashioned way -- by building hard-nosed teams that have helped Tennessee rank among the stingiest in college football. []

"John has been and will continue to be a vital cog in all we do," head coach Phillip Fulmer said. "His leadership, intense work ethic and loyalty have been key to our success over the years."

Following the national championship season of 1998, Chavis was named the SEC's outstanding linebacker coach. Tennessee's defense led the SEC in 1996 and ranked in the top three five of the past seven years.

In addition to supervising linebackers and the overall defense, Chavis in 1999 was named assistant head coach.

Chavis was hired by Johnny Majors, one of the coaches he played for in college. Chavis has divided his responsibilities between the defensive line and linebacker corps since returning to his alma mater 16 years ago. In 1989, Chavis coached the defensive line, primarily the defensive tackles. Then in 1990, to help accommodate additions to the defensive staff, he made the switch to linebacker coach.

Phillip Fulmer promoted Chavis to defensive coordinator prior to 1995. The hire was criticized at the time, and received continued criticism until the defense performed well during the 1998 National Championship season. This season Chavis begins his 19th year with the Vols.

Following the 2006 Season Chavis was named as the Assistant Football Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. []

Chavis and other members of the staff have seen increased pressure after a slow start to the 2007 Season, including double digit losses to California and Florida.

Early career

Before returning to Tennessee, Chavis had been defensive coordinator at Alabama A&M a historically Black university. There he led the Defense of the Division II school to the best defensive record in the nation. The Bulldogs ranked first in total defense in 1987 and 1988.

Before taking the defensive coordinator job at Alabama A&M, Chavis coached as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1979, as defensive line coach at Alabama A&M from 1980-83 and then as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator at Alabama State in 1984-85.

"I look at their defense. Coach Chavis, he's done a great job for a long time." - Charlie Weis (Notre Dame Head Coach) []

Chavis and then Florida Defensive Coordinator Bob Stoops are credited with bring the "Zone Blitz" into College Football in the mid to late 90's.

Chavis vs. Spurrier

With Steve Spurrier running the offense at University of Florida and now the University of South Carolina, while Chavis was coordinating the defense at Tennessee, there were battles between the two that helped determine the SEC East and in 1996 and 1998, the National Championship.

Chavis came under fire after his defensive unit surrendered 62 points in a loss to Spurrier's Gators in 1995. It was the most points ever surrendered by a Chavis led defense at Tennessee. Chavis got the last laugh after the 2001 game in the Swamp in Gainesville as Spurrier retired following that game which cost the Gators a shot at a national title. Spurrier has gotten the best of this matchup going 6-4.

Playing career

Chavis came to UT as a walk-on defensive lineman and later was granted a scholarship on the basis of his play at middle guard and tackle. He played for both Bill Battle and Johnny Majors. He lettered in 1977 and 1978 and received his degree from the College of Education in 1979. Chavis became a starter for the Tennessee Defense during his senior season. Chavis is a native of Dillon, SC.

NFL Players

The following is an incomplete list of defensive players have been drafted into the NFL, or made an NFL Roster since Chavis took over as Defensive Coordinator in 1995:

Jason Allen (Miami Dolphins)

Parys Haralson (San Francisco 49ers)

Omar Gaither (Philadelphia Eagles)

Jesse Mahelona (Tennessee Titans)

Kevin Simon (Washington Redskins)

Kevin Burnett (Dallas Cowboys)

Rashad Baker (Buffalo Bills)

Shaun Ellis (New York Jets)

Terry Fair (Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and St. Louis Rams)

Deon Grant (Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars)

Jabari Greer (Buffalo Bills)

Albert Haynesworth (Tennessee Titans)

John Henderson (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Leonard Little (St. Louis Rams)

Eddie Moore (Miami Dolphins)

Darwin Walker (Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles)

Al Wilson (Denver Broncos)

Gibril Wilson (New York Giants)

Aubrayo Franklin (Baltimore Ravens)

Julian Battle (Kansas City Chiefs)


He and his wife, Diane Crisp Chavis, are the parents of two sons, C. John Chavis (9/29/1980) and Jason Chavis (12/1/1982).

External links

* [ Official UT Sports Bio]

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