Longtime NFL defensive standout Jim Jeffcoat is in his third season as the defensive line coach for UH head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Jeffcoat spent 15 years playing in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. After his retirement in 1997, he spent seven seasons on the Cowboys' staff, coaching the defensive line. Prior to arriving in Houston, Jeffcoat was in private business in the Dallas area for two years.
In his second season on the Houston staff, Jeffcoat saw two of his pupils earn All-Conference USA honors. Tyrell Graham earned a spot on the Second Team, while Zeke Riser was an All-Freshman team selection.
A seven-year member of the Cowboys' coaching ranks (1998-2005), Jeffcoat spent his last four seasons in the organization as the defensive ends coach after two years as the club's assistant defensive line coach. Hired as an assistant in 1998, Jeffcoat often called upon his 15 years of NFL playing experience to help tutor the Cowboys who followed in his footsteps as one of the franchise's most productive and consistent defensive ends.
Jeffcoat's fourth season directing the fortunes of the club's defensive ends saw the club finish as the league's stingiest defensive unit, allowing just 253 yards per game, a 75-yard improvement from the previous season. That number included a league-low 164.4 yards through the air. On the ground, teams averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, the fourth-best average in the league.
Under his watch, Greg Ellis evolved into one of the league's best all-around defensive linemen. After three consecutive seasons of increased production against the run with career-high tackle totals, Ellis led the 2003 club with a career-high eight sacks. Jeffcoat's 2002 line helped Dallas limit opponents to a 3.8 yards per carry average and forced 19 interceptions with their pass rush.
That performance came on the heels of a 2001 season that saw the Dallas defense make a tremendous turnaround, allowing 1,710 rushing yards, a figure that was 927 fewer yards than the club allowed in 2000. Those numbers represented the largest turnaround by any defensive unit in the NFL in 2001.
Jeffcoat took over as defensive ends coach in 2000 and, under his guidance, Ellis and Ebenezer Ekuban overcame adversity as the season unfolded. Ekuban handled the responsibility of starting at an early stage in his career while fighting through injuries, and Ellis battled back from a severe leg fractured that brought an abrupt end to his 1999 season.
In 1998 and 1999, Jeffcoat worked with rookie defensive linemen Ellis (1998) and Ekuban (1999) into the lineup. Ellis became the first Cowboys' rookie to start a season at defensive end since Bob Lilly in 1961. Ellis went on to lead all defensive linemen with 63 tackles as a rookie. The next season, Jeffcoat helped guide Chad Hennings (92 tackles) and Kavika Pittman (74 tackles) to career-high totals.
Jeffcoat joined the coaching ranks after finishing his playing career with 102.5 career sacks, 745 tackles and 194 quarterback pressures. Entering the 2010 season, he ranks among the NFL's top-25 career leaders in sacks.
He played in 227 games from 1983 to 1997, placing him among the top 40 players in NFL history in games played. He spent the first 12 years of his career with Dallas after being selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, and he was a member of Cowboys' teams that won Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII.
During his 12-year stint with the Cowboys, Jeffcoat totaled 698 tackles, 94.5 sacks and 149 quarterback pressures. His best season in Dallas was 1989, when he finished with a career-high 100 tackles, a career-high 42 quarterback pressures, 11.5 sacks and a career-high three fumble recoveries. He registered five seasons with 70-or-more tackles and five seasons with 10-or-more sacks in Dallas. He tied the Cowboys team record for sacks in a game when he registered five sacks at Washington on Nov. 10, 1985.
Jeffcoat played his final three seasons with the Buffalo Bills.
Jeffcoat was a three-year starter at Arizona State University from 1980-82, where he earned All-PAC 10 and Honorable Mention All-America honors. He was inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame on Oct. 22, 1994 after being named to the all-time Fiesta Bowl team in 1991.
Jeffcoat earned All-America football honors at Matawan, N.J., Regional High School while also lettering in wrestling. Jeffcoat was awarded the New Jersey Sportswriter's Association Unsung Hero Award for his community service in 1991. At the Cowboys' 2000 training camp, Jeffcoat and his defensive players participated in the club's tackling hunger "Lineman Weigh-In" sponsored by Campbell Soup, donating a total of 21,064 cans of soup to The Salvation Army Irving Corps and Faith Mission Food Bank in Wichita Falls, Texas.
He earned his bachelor's degree in communications from ASU in 1982. He and wife Tammy have four children: Jaren, twins, Jackson and Jacqueline, and Jasmine.