2016 marks Year 2 for John Chavis as Texas A&M defensive coordinator. History suggests the results will be grand.
At every stop, his defenses have seen improvements that have been both large and fast-moving. Keeping with the trend, the defensive backs he recruits to his teams follow the same description. Chavis has put dozens of players in the league during his time as a coordinator, and already has proven that ability first-hand at Texas A&M with cornerback and 2016 third-round draft selection Brandon Williams.
Chavis not only can sharpen the already-elite talents of physical freaks such as Myles Garrett, but take athletes like Williams who never played defense before and convert them into NFL draft talents in a single year.
You can’t teach natural ability, but Chavis should be considered a top-level professor in everything else. In the first of a three-year deal he signed with the Aggies, Chavis took the defense from a No. 104 national ranking all the way up to No. 51 by giving up 70 fewer yards per game. He has a proven track record of success, especially after having the chance to establish his presence.
One of the most proven entities as a defensive coordinator in all of college football, Chavis’ coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1979 following three years playing for the Volunteers. His first job away from Tennessee came in 1980, where he coached the defensive line at Alabama A&M. He took the defensive coordinator job at Alabama State for the 1984-1985 season, but returned to Alabama A&M after one year. When he left the Bulldogs for good in 1988, they boasted the No. 1 (total) defense in the country among Division II teams.
He returned to the SEC in 1989 to coach the Tennessee defensive line and linebackers. After a 1995 promotion to coordinator, an already-stout defensive unit improved even more. Chavis’ defense held teams to less than 100 rushing yards per game season after season, finishing toward the top of the SEC in total defense every time. In 1998, the Volunteers won the national championship over Florida State to cap an undefeated 13-0 season.
After Tennessee came LSU, where Chavis coached from 2009 until joining A&M for 2015. He helped the Tigers reach double-digit wins in four different seasons during his tenure before turning down an offer to stick around following an 8-5 2014 campaign.
In Year 2, expect the yards per game to continue to dip while the win total rises. After defense being the issue for the first few years of the Kevin Sumlin era, Chavis corrected the issue only for the offense to take a step back. As a counter, Sumlin hired offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone to help return stability to that side of the ball.
It takes a complete effort from every unit, but Chavis will have his troops ready for battle when the season kicks off Sept. 3 against UCLA. If Mazzone and new quarterback Trevor Knight can provide a resurgence to the offense, an improvement on defense even remotely similar to last season could have the Aggies sniffing double digit victories.