Jay Sawvel
Jay  Sawvel

Defensive Coordinator

Jay Sawvel is in his second season as Wake Forest's defensive coordinator after being hired in January, 2017. Sawvel most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Minnesota where he constructed a top-25 defense and helped the Gophers to their best record in 13 seasons.

Sawvel spent the last six seasons as an assistant at Minnesota. He was the defensive backs and special teams coach from 2011 to 2015. After Jerry Kill's retirement as the head coach at Minnesota, Tracy Claeys was elevated to head coach and Sawvel became the defensive coordinator.

Under Sawvel's direction, the 2016 Golden Gopher defense was a top 25 team nationally in a number of defensive categories including rushing defense (14th), scoring defense (21st), sacks (22nd), total defense (21st) and turnover margin (18th). In addition, Minnesota ranked 27th nationally in team passing efficiency defense.

Sawvel joined the Gophers after three seasons as the defensive backs coach at Northern Illinois from 2008-10. He was a member of the Southern Illinois staff under Kill for seven seasons from 2001-07, working with the secondary and special teams.

Sawvel played at Mount Union and earned a bachelor's degree in 1993. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky in 1994 and moved to Notre Dame as a graduate assistant coach for the 1996-99 seasons. Sawvel owns Master of Arts degrees from both Eastern Kentucky and Notre Dame.

This past season the Gophers went 9-4 overall, 5-4 in the Big Ten West and finished the season with a 17-12 win in the Holiday Bowl. In that game, Minnesota held WSU's potent passing offense to just 264 yards, 86 below its average, and allowed the Cougars their lowest point total of the season. WSU crossed the 50-yard line just twice in the game.

Sawvel and his wife Jeannine have two daughters, Mackenzie and Miranda.

The Jay Sawvel File
Birthdate March 14, 1971
Wife Jeannine
Children Mackenzie, Miranda
Alma Mater Mount Union, 1993
Alma Mater Eastern Kentucky, 1995
Alma Mater Notre Dame, 1997
Playing Background
Mount Union (1989-93) ... Linebacker ... Earned all-conference honors in 1993.
Coaching History
(2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator, Wake Forest
2011-16 (6 seasons) Defensive Coordinator, Minnesota
2008-10 (3 seasons) Assistant Coach, Northern Illinois
2001-07 (7 seasons) Assistant Coach, Southern Illinois
1999-2000 (2 seasons) Assistant Coach, Ferris State
1996-99 (4 seasons) Graduate Assistant, Notre Dame
1994-95 (2 seasons) Graduate Assistant, Eastern Kentucky
NCAA Tennis Gear