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Coaching Quack: DC Jim Leavitt

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Practice Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

What are the Ducks getting in a familiar face as defensive coordinator? Will Pepsi give him some shares in their stock?

Coach: Jim Leavitt

Title: Defensive Coordinator / Inside Linebackers Coach

Contract: 4 years, $1.7 million base, $125,000 incentives, $500K buyout if he departs before 1/31/2019, $250K on 2/1/2019. All buyouts waived if he leaves for the Kansas State HC job.

Age: 61

Alma Mater: Missouri

Coaching record: 95-57

- Has a Masters degree in counseling from the University of Missouri. He was a safety for the Tigers after playing both ways in high school. Well traveled assistant that stuck by current Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder for a long time before striking out on his own at the University of South Florida. Every year of his coaching career except one had him involved with linebackers in some capacity. Has some pro coaching experience with the San Francisco 49ers serving as LB coach under current Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh. Coached at Colorado during their remarkable turnaround of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

- Came to Oregon to serve as the DC in December 2016. Considered to be a legitimate candidate for the vacant Ducks HC job before Mario Cristobal got the job. Stayed on Cristobal’s staff after some rumors of him following Willie Taggart to Florida State proved to be false.

- Master developer of defensive talent regardless of coaching stop. Defenses under his watch have dramatically improved multiple ranks from when he first arrived to the current year. None more obvious than Oregon’s huge rise in the defensive statistical rankings from the doldrums of the Don Pellum era. Colorado also had multiple draft picks due to his tenure there as well.

- The godfather of USF football. He built that program from the ground up as its first coach into a respectable program.


Best Oregon recruit: Deommodore Lenoir. A four star recruit that was ranked eighth in the state of California, seventh at his position, and 64th nationally. Los Angeles native. Expected to be a starter at corner for the Ducks this season.

Best Other recruit: Jon Van Diest. Three star defensive end recruit from the state of Colorado that signed with the Buffs.


Leavitt isn’t known as an elite recruiter just yet but an excellent developer of talent that move on to the pro level. He’s one of the best defensive coordinators in the country as a result. Not much to see just yet for the Ducks but there’s still time.

Player Development


Jason Pierre-Paul - JPP has had the most productive career out of the many former Bulls that played for Leavitt. Has posted a career line of 433 tackles, 58 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 5 touchdowns thus far. Known for the July 4th fireworks incident in which he severely injured his right hand. Current Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Formerly of the New York Giants. Contract: 4 years, $62 million with $40 million guaranteed.

George Selvie - Selvie had a respectable five year in the NFL after being a seventh round draft pick of the Rams. Most seventh round picks don’t make it past their second year if at all. Made the most impact with the Dallas Cowboys. Career earnings: $5,769,000

Mike Jenkins - Jenkins was a first round pick for the Dallas Cowboys in 2008. He had a rough go of it due to various injuries. Still played eight years in the league. Effectively retired due to an ACL injury suffered in 2016 while with the Arizona Cardinals. Career earnings: $14,435,000

Stephen Nicholas - He was a fourth round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. A seven year veteran linebacker that retired in 2014 after being cut. He’s currently a defensive QC coach for Tampa Bay. Career earnings: $12,132,500

Nate Allen - A second round pick of the Eagles in 2010. He played seven years with three different franchises. Never really lived up to the hype as one of the best safeties in his class. Career earnings: $21,537,713


Chidobe Awuzie - A standout corner that was drafted in the second round in the 2017 draft by the Cowboys. Expected to compete for a starting job in 2018.

Ahkello Witherspoon - Another corner/safety that came on really well for the 49ers during his rookie season. Was a third round pick. Expected to compete for a starting job.

Tedric Thompson - Safety prospect that was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. He’s expected to slide into a starting role within a rebuilt Seahawks secondary that lost some major pieces.

Isaiah Oliver - A second round cornerback selection of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2018 draft. He’s expected to slot in as the nickel corner for a young and talented Falcons defense under DC Marquand Manuel.

Final Summary

The Ducks did really well to retain Leavitt as the defensive coordinator / Pepsi pitchman when he was in consideration for the top job. He’s a bit on the older side so he’s likely to settle down as the DC unless the Kansas State job opens up. He has an excellent track record of developing talent for the pros, which recruits will love. A high energy type who gets the most out of the guys he has. The stints he had with Colorado and Oregon really impressed me as both programs had defenses weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire. While he isn’t the recruiter type, he can hold his own in that regard. Knows what it takes to build a program from humble beginnings so the experience will definitely help Cristobal try to retool the Ducks after having three coaches in successive years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a Pepsi vending machine installed in his office.