Football Defensive Line Coach
Through three years on the Irish coaching staff, Jerome [quote]Jappy[quote] Oliver has shown the ability to not only coach seasoned veterans but also adjust to a new defensive front while retooling the defensive line.
Oliver has helped develop experienced players into National Football League drafted players and he has coached young players into freshman All-Americans.
Since 2005, Oliver helped the growth of defensive ends Victor Abiamiri and Chris Frome as well as defensive tackles Derek Landri and Trevor Laws. Abiamiri was a second-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, while Landri was chosen that same year in the fifth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Laws was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft and became the earliest Irish defensive tackle selected since Bryant Young was taken in the first round 14 years earlier. Frome was signed the day after the [apos]07 draft as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Bears and went to camp with the then-defending NFC champions.
The `07 season saw the emergence of Laws, coupled with the growth of Pat Kuntz and Ian Williams at nose tackle in a season where the Irish switched its defensive front from four men to three. Laws arguably had one the best seasons ever by a Notre Dame defensive lineman. The fifth-year senior earned team MVP honors after recording 112 tackles, four sacks, eight tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, three blocked kicks and five pass breakups. Laws led the country in tackles by a defensive lineman, recording 37 more than the next closest player (through the regular season). His 112 tackles were the second-most ever by a Notre Dame defensive lineman (Steve Niehaus had 113 in 1975) and he ranked 41st in the nation for tackles, averaging 9.3 per game.
Kuntz had served as a backup defensive tackle behind Landri and Laws for two years and entered the [apos]07 season with only 11 tackles. Despite the limited playing time, Kuntz quickly emerged as one of the unsung heroes as he totaled 43 tackles in the first 10 games before missing the last two because of injury. Kuntz also proved to have impeccable timing as he knocked down nine passes at the line of scrimmage, the most ever by an Irish defensive lineman.
Substituting for Kuntz at nose tackle was freshman Williams who ranked sixth on the `07 team with 45 tackles despite playing most of the season in a reserve role. Williams showed incredible tenacity on the field and recorded 26 tackles over the final four contests en route to recording the third-most tackles by a freshman defensive lineman in school history. Following the season, Williams was honored for his fantastic first year by being named a first-team freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America.
A senior-laden defensive line created a great push upfield in a number of games, helping the 2006 defense allow 56.7 less total yards than in 2005. Abiamiri posted a career- and team-high 10 sacks as he tied for 15th nationally and paced the Irish defense with 14 quarterback hurries. One of the most disruptive forces in all of college football, Landri exploded on the scene, recording seven sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss which tied him for second in the country among defensive tackles. Landri[apos]s partner in crime was Laws, who ranked fifth on the team with 61 tackles in 2006.
Oliver[apos]s linemen were vital to the team[apos]s success in 2005. The three-man rotation of defensive tackles Landri, Laws, and Brian Beidatsch combined for 90 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 quarterback sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and two blocked field goals in 2005. The defensive ends rotation of Abiamiri, Justin Brown, Frome and Ronald Talley also blossomed, combining for 89 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss (15 by Abiamiri), 10 quarterback sacks (eight by Abiamiri), eight quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery and seven pass deflections.
The line was a key factor in Notre Dame[apos]s defensive resurgence in 2005, as the Irish produced 24 turnovers (13 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries) while limiting opponents to only a 35 percent success rate on third downs and touchdowns on only 56 percent of red zone opportunities.
Oliver spent 2003-04 as defensive line coach under former Irish head coach Lou Holtz at South Carolina, teaming with former Irish defensive coordinator Rick Minter to achieve a noteworthy turnaround on the defensive side in 2004 as the Gamecocks finished with a national ranking of 20th in total defense (315.18 yards per game).
Oliver previously served on the staff of Air Force[apos]s Fisher DeBerry for eight seasons from 1995 through 2002, helping the Falcons to five postseason bowl appearances including wins in the Oahu Bowl (1998) and the Silicon Valley Bowl (2000).
During Oliver[apos]s eight years as defensive line coach at Air Force, the Falcons finished a combined 65-33 – and ended up 25th in the final USA Today/ ESPN poll in 1997 after finishing 10-3, then 10th in USA Today/ESPN in 1998 after finishing 12-1. Air Force in 1998 won the Western Athletic Conference Mountain Division title.
One of Oliver[apos]s prize pupils, Bryce Fisher, earned WAC Mountain Division Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1998. Fisher was also the team[apos]s most outstanding player in the 1997 Las Vegas Bowl, and was later drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills. Oliver also helped turn Shawn Thomas into one of the Academy[apos]s best defenders. Thomas finished his career ranked fourth in school history in tackles for loss and quarterback sacks. In 2000, one of his players, Zach Johnson, was named all-conference and played in the East-West Shrine All-Star game. In addition to his work with the defensive line, Oliver also worked with the Falcon kickoff team as well as the extra point and field goal blocking units.
From 1991-94 Oliver served on the staff at Vanderbilt, where he helped the Commodores defense set school records for quarterback sacks in consecutive seasons. Vanderbilt also lowered its team rushing yards allowed each of Oliver[apos]s four seasons in Nashville under head coach Gerry DiNardo, a former Irish offensive lineman.
He began his coaching career in 1978 at Davison (Mich.) High School (near his hometown of Flint) where he coached the defensive backfield and wide receivers. He returned to his alma mater, Purdue University, as a graduate assistant coach in 1979-80 (working with the wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line) for head coach Jim Young – and helped the Boilers to wins in the Bluebonnet (1979) and Liberty (1980) Bowls and consecutive 10-2 and 9-3 marks. He then coached at Eastern Michigan (offensive backfield and receivers) from 1981-82 under former Irish assistant Mike Stock and Northeastern (outside linebackers) in 1983 under head coach Paul Pawlak. Oliver coached defensive linemen at the Naval Academy from 1984-86 under head coach Gary Tranquill. He also has coaching experience at Grand Valley State (defensive line in 1988) and Western Illinois (inside linebackers in 1989-90).
Born Jerome Wayne Oliver III on July 17, 1955, in Flint, Mich., Oliver is a 1978 graduate of Purdue University (bachelor[apos]s degree in physical education and health), where he lettered three years in football as a wide receiver (he caught 15 career passes) and also spent one season as a reserve on the Boilermakers[apos] basketball squad.
Oliver was a standout athlete at Southwestern High School in Flint, Mich., earning all-city and all-district accolades in both football and basketball. He was the city[apos]s athlete of the year in 1973 and captained teams in football, basketball and baseball. He has one daughter, Candace, and a son, Justin.