John Donovan (American football)

John Donovan (born September 11, 1974) is an American football assistant coach who is the current offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Washington Huskies.

John Donovan
Current position
TitleOffensive Coordinator
TeamWashington Huskies
Biographical details
Born (1974-09-11) September 11, 1974 (age 45)
River Edge, New Jersey
Playing career
1993–1996Johns Hopkins
Position(s)Defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1997Villanova (DB)
1998–2000Georgia Tech (GA)
2001–2004Maryland (RC)
2005Maryland (RB)
2006–2007Maryland (QB)
2008–2010Maryland (RB)
2011–2013Vanderbilt (OC/RB)
2014–2015Penn St. (OC/TE)
2016–2019Jacksonville Jaguars (OA)
2020–presentUniversity of Washington (OC/QB)

Coaching careerEdit

Assistant coachEdit

Early yearsEdit

After playing for three years for the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays football team, Donovan worked as an intern for the Carolina Panthers.[1] Shortly after, he moved on to take an assistant secondary coaching spot for the Villanova Wildcats football team in 1997. That season, the Wildcats posted a 12–1 record and were ranked number one in Division I-AA.[1] He later moved on to finish earn his master's degree from Georgia Tech, while simultaneously serving as an assistant coach under head coach George O'Leary. He was temporarily promoted to coach the running backs in the 2000 Peach Bowl after Ralph Friedgen's departure to Maryland.[1][2]


Between 2001 and 2004, after following Friedgen to Maryland, he primarily served as a recruiting coordinator for the Terrapins. In 2005, Donovan was promoted to the running backs coach.[3] He moved to the quarterback coach for the next two seasons, before being reassigned back to the running backs in 2008 amidst multiple coaching changes in the coaching staff.[4][5] Friedgen himself was later removed as head coach of the Terrapins in December 2010,[6] leaving many Maryland assistants to look for jobs elsewhere. With offensive coordinator James Franklin moving to take the head coaching position at Vanderbilt, Donovan was assigned with the play calling duties for the Military Bowl, Friedgen's final game as coach.[7] The Terrapins won the game 51–20, the most points ever scored by Maryland in a bowl game.[8]


On January 13, 2011, Donovan was named as offensive coordinator and running backs coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores football team, rejoining former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin.[9] As noted by, these were "three of the most productive offensive seasons in the program’s modern-era history". Under Donovan's direction, RB Zac Stacy ran for 1,193 yards in 2011 and 1,141 yards in 2012 to become the first Vanderbilt player with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in program history. Stacy earned second team All-SEC honors and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2013. Donovan's offensive units earned three of the top four total yardage marks in school history dating back to 1945, gaining at least 4,400 yards each season, including a school record 4,936 yards in 2012. The Commodores averaged 30.0 points per game in 2012, marking the first time in school history they averaged 30 or more points per game, and followed with another program record of 30.1 points per game in 2013." [10]

Penn StateEdit

In January 2014, Donovan followed Franklin to Penn State as the offensive coordinator.[11] Donovan came under heavy criticism from the Nittany Lion fan base for questionable play calling. In November 2015, he was fired from the Penn State program.[12] Following the firing, a former graduate assistant who worked on the staff during the 2014 season claimed on Twitter that the offense was largely designed by the "HFC" and's David Jones wrote an article headlined "John Donovan was scapegoat for rebuild that will take longer than fans can accept." Surprisingly, Penn State would go on to win the Big 10 Championship the year after Donovan was fired, as new OC hire Joe Moorhead had the benefit of implementing his own system and employing a more accurate, more mobile quarterback, Trace McSorley.[13][14]

NFL Jacksonville JaguarsEdit

On March 21, 2016, he was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars to be offensive quality control coach. After the 2016, he was named offensive assistant. Former Jaguars' offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett credited Donovan as "instrumental to the Jaguars’ red zone plan" in their 2017 AFC Championship appearance season, which included a game that they went a perfect 6-for-6 in the red zone. [15] Following the 2018 season, Donovan was named the assistant running backs coach.

University of WashingtonEdit

On January 10, 2020, Huskies' new head coach Jimmy Lake added Donovan to his coaching staff as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Donovan married his wife Stacey (née Spicer) in May 2005.[1] The couple has three children named John Patrick, Cate, and Shea.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "Player Bio: John Donovan". University of Maryland Athletics. Archived from the original on 2012-03-17. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  2. ^ "Terps Tab Friedgen As Coach". Associated Press. CBS. 2000-11-29. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  3. ^ "Donovan Named Terps New Running Backs Coach". CSTV. 2005-01-27. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  4. ^ "Terps hire coaches". Associated Press. The Frederick News-Post. 2008-01-25. Archived from the original on 2012-10-12. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  5. ^ Carig, Marc (2008-01-25). "Terrapins' Friedgen Makes Changes to Coaching Staff". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  6. ^ Prisbell, Eric and Steve Yanda (2010-12-19). "Ralph Friedgen out as Maryland football coach". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  7. ^ Orton, Kathy (2010-12-23). "Maryland's John Donovan will call plays at Military Bowl". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  8. ^ "Ralph Friedgen exits with win as Maryland romps in Military Bowl". Associated Press. ESPN. 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  9. ^ Low, Chris (2011-01-13). "James Franklin unveils his offensive staff". ESPN. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  10. ^ "John Donovan". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  11. ^ John Moyer (January 17, 2014). "Closer look at Penn State's staff so far". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  12. ^ Jourdan Rodrigue (November 29, 2015). "Penn State Football Announces Firing of Offensive Coordinator Donovan". Centre Daily Times. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
  13. ^ "John Donovan was scapegoat for rebuild with years to go". pennlive. 2015-11-30. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  14. ^
  15. ^ O'Halloran, Ryan. "Jaguars Notebook: Perfect red zone game impressive and rare". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  16. ^ maxvroom (2020-01-10). "Washington Hires John Donovan as Offensive Coordinator". UW Dawg Pound. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  17. ^ "Player Bio: John Donovan". Vanderbilt University Commodores Athletics. Retrieved 2011-01-31.

External linksEdit