Confirming reports that first emerged Sunday, football coach Mike London announced Monday that the team will add Jerome “Jappy” Oliver as its defensive line coach. Oliver served in the same stead and as assistant coach at Buffalo for the last four seasons.
“I’ve known coach Oliver for a number of years from my time serving as a defensive line coach,” London said in a statement released by the school. “He is someone who has always been highly respected in the profession. I think he is a very good fit for our program.”
A wide receiver at Purdue as a student, Oliver first broke into college coaching as a graduate assistant for offensive skill players at his alma mater in 1979. He switched sides of the ball in 1983, however, and guided the defensive line at programs such as Vanderbilt, Air Force, South Carolina and Notre Dame before joining Buffalo in 2010. With the Bulls, he helped engineer a revival that resulted in the school’s second-ever FBS bowl appearance in 2013.
Oliver will greet a familiar environment when he arrives in Charlottesville. Defensive Coordinator Jon Tenuta coached with Oliver at Notre Dame during the 2008 season, when the former was a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for former Irish coach Charlie Weis.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to come work with coach London at the University of Virginia,” Oliver said. “I have followed Mike’s career for a long time, from before his tenure at U.Va., and I know what he stands for. I am enthusiastic for the chance to help U.Va. get back on the right track. My relationship with defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta gives me a comfort level of what to bring to the table to help Virginia be successful and take the program to the next level.”
The hiring of Oliver fills one of the voids opened by the departures of linebackers coach Vincent Brown and safeties coach Anthony Poindexter to Connecticut last week. Both were lauded as distinguished recruiters for a program which has attracted a bevy of touted prospects to Virginia in recent years.
Reports surfaced last weekend that Richmond assistant Byron Thweatt would move west along I-64 West to join London’s staff at Virginia, where he excelled as a linebacker. Neither school has yet confirmed any move.