Zac Spavital enters his seventh season working with the defensive backs at the University of Houston.
Spavital's defensive backs played a major role, the Houston defense was the third-most improved scoring defense nationally and ranked 20th nationally in allowing 21.8 points per game after allowing 36 points a game in 2012.
The 2013 Houston defense led the nation with 43 turnovers forced to help lead the Cougars to a nation's best +25 turnover margin. His defensive backs group accounted for 29 of the team's 43 turnovers.
Trevon Stewart led the nation and set a UH record with six fumble recoveries while Adrian McDonald led The American Athletic Conference with six interceptions. Stewart and cornerback Zach McMillian, who also had five interceptions, were both named to The American Athletic Conference's second team.
In 2012, Spavital's unit produced three players with Conference USA honors as D.J. Hayden was named first team All-Conference USA, Stewart was named to league's freshman team and McMillian earned C-USA honorable mention honors. In addition, Stewart was named to the FWAA Freshman All-American team as he led all freshmen nationally with 126 tackles. McMillian led Conference USA with five interceptions while Hayden was second with four. In all, Spavital's group accounted for 14 interceptions.
Under Spavital's leadership, Hayden became the first Houston player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1997 when he was selected 12th overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2013.
Houston's defense was vastly improved in 2011 and ranked third nationally with 21 interceptions. Hayden was named Conference USA Defensive Newcomer of the Year and was a Second Team All-C-USA pick. Overall the secondary allowed 16 yards less per game through the air despite breaking in three new starters and allowed two less TD throws in two more games played.
During the 2010 season, Spavital narrowed his focus to tutoring the safety position and aided a foursome of defenders who accounted for 213 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 tackles for loss and eight passes broken up.
In 2009, the Cougars recorded 11 interceptions with cornerbacks Jamal Robinson and Brandon Brinkley finishing 1-2 on the team. Brinkley posted four pickoffs for 108 yards on the way to being named to the All-Conference USA Second Team. Robinson etched his name into Cougar lore with a 26-yard return for touchdown at No. 5/6 Oklahoma State that sealed the win for the Cougars.
Brinkley finished his career ranked among the Cougars' all-time career leaders in interceptions, games played and pass breakups.
During Spavital's first season with the Cougars in 2008, Houston defensive backs picked off 13 opposing passes with the four interceptions by Brinkley and Loyce Means topping all players.
Prior to Houston, Spavital spent three seasons as the defensive graduate assistant on Bob Stoops' staff at Oklahoma, where he worked closely with the defensive backfield and the scout team. Spavital helped lead the Sooners to a pair of Big 12 titles and two appearances in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Statistically, in each of his three seasons at OU, the Sooners' defense ranked at the top of the Big 12 and among the elite in the country in total defense. Oklahoma never finished outside of the top two in total defense in the Big 12, leading the league in both 2005 and 2006 while ranking second in 2007.
Nationally, the Sooners ranked 13th in total defense in 2005, 16th in 2006 and 26th in 2007.
He coached six players who earned All-Big 12 honors and five players who went on to sign NFL contracts, including 2007 third-round NFL Draft pick Reggie Smith.
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Spavital played football at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for two seasons before transferring to Murray State in Kentucky where he played for two years. He was an All-Conference and All-Region selection and was named a Gridwire Scholar All-American.
Spavital graduated from Murray State in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in business administration.
Zach McMillian (Houston)
2013 The American Second Team
Trevon Stewart (Houston)
2013 The American Second Team;
2012 FWAA Freshman All-American;
2012 Conference USA Freshman Team
D.J Hayden (Houston), Raiders
2012 All-Conference USA
2011 Conference USA Newcomer of the Year
Reggie Smith (Oklahoma), Raiders
2007 All-Big 12, 2006 All-Big 12
Nic Harris (Oklahoma)
2007 All-Big 12
Dominique Franks (Oklahoma), Falcons
Quinton Carter (Oklahoma), Broncos