In December 2019, Jovon Johnson was elevated to defensive coordinator for the Defiance College football program. Johnson came to Defiance prior to the 2019 season as the defensive backs coach before taking on more responsibilities with the defense toward the end of the year.
“After a thorough search of defensive coordinator candidates, I’ve decided, based on our success defensively at the end of the year, that Jovon is the best candidate for the position,” Matsakis said. “He took over the defense the last few games of the year and I thought, he’s sitting right here, he’s passionate, he loves it here and he wants to help us build a championship program, so I got the right guy.”
Despite his size (5-foot-9), Johnson has an impressive background as a defensive back himself, playing professionally for four teams over 12 seasons (2007-18) in the Canadian Football League. In 2006, he spent time in the National Football League with the Pittsburgh Steelers after an exceptional career at the University of Iowa.
“I’m honored to be given an opportunity to lead this group of young men and those to come in the future on the defensive side of the ball,” Johnson said. “We’ve made tremendous progress throughout the 2019 season and I feel 2020 will bring an even better output. The current players believe in me and I believe in them. It is my job to educate, motivate and inspire them to achieve more than they ever thought humanly possible. We got some work to do, but the good thing is the season doesn’t start tomorrow.”
In the CFL, Johnson played in 188 games, collecting 564 tackles and 35 interceptions with eight touchdowns. While with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2011, he earned the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award and still remains the only defensive back to ever receive the honor, which was established in 1974. Johnson also was a part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders when they won the Grey Cup in 2007. He was twice named a CFL All-Star.
At Iowa from 2002-05 under head coach Kirk Ferentz, Johnson was a four-year starter and First Team All-Big Ten Conference performer. He played in 49 games for the Hawkeyes, finishing with 180 tackles and 17 interceptions. Iowa posted a 38-12 overall record during Johnson’s time there with Jan. 1 bowl game wins over the University of Florida (2004 Outback Bowl) and Louisiana State University (2005 Capital One Bowl). He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in health and sports administration in 2006.
Johnson is originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he starred in football and basketball at Mercyhurst Preparatory School. In 2015, he was inducted into the Metropolitan Erie Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.