In his 20-plus years in the coaching ranks, Kim Dameron has helped build some of the top-ranked defensive units in college football. Having served on previous staffs, Houston Nutt welcomed a successful and familiar face to his first Ole Miss staff on Dec. 4, 2007, naming Dameron assistant coach for safeties.
During his time in Oxford, Dameron has tutored a pair of safeties to become NFL Draft selections. Kendrick Lewis was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2010 Draft, while Jamarca Sanford was selected in the 2009 Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
Under Dameron's watch, Lewis earned All-SEC second team honors and became the sixth Rebel all-time to lead the team in tackles in consecutive years. In 2009, Lewis ranked 10th in the SEC in passes defended and 20th in tackles.
Dameron's unit was one of the toughest to pass against in the nation in 2009. Ole Miss ranked No. 11 in the NCAA in pass efficiency defense and No. 15 in pass defense.
In his first season in Oxford in 2008, Dameron helped lead a Rebel defense that improved from 12th in the SEC to fifth in total defense and from 11th in the league to fifth in scoring defense. Sanford and Lewis both finished in the top 16 in the SEC in tackles.
Before arriving in Oxford, Dameron spent the previous three seasons as defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe. In 2007, he helped ULM become bowl eligible for the first time since it made the jump to Division I-A in 1994 and end the season winning five of its last six games, including a 21-14 victory at Alabama.
During his brief tenure in Monroe, the Warhawks had six All-Sun Belt honorees on defense, including recent NFL Draft fifth-round pick Kevin Payne. The ULM defense was one of the stingiest in the Sun Belt in 2006, allowing the fewest points in the Sun Belt. The defensive unit also ranked third nationally in turnovers gained and ninth in interceptions.
Dameron first worked alongside Nutt in 1983 as a graduate assistant under Lou Holtz at his alma mater, Arkansas, after earning his degree. Dameron was a four-year player for Holtz from 1979-82 at defensive back and wide receiver. As a Razorback, he participated in four bowl games, including the 1979 Sugar Bowl, and was named Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Texas A&M in 1979.
Dameron continued his coaching career at Missouri State, managing the defensive secondary and special teams from 1986-91. The Bears were the 1989 and 1990 Gateway Conference champions. The 1989 squad was an NCAA quarterfinalist, while the 1990 squad advanced to the NCAA first round of the I-AA playoffs.
After spending 1992 as the defensive secondary coach at UNLV, Dameron rejoined Nutt as the defensive coordinator at Murray State from 1993-95. The Racers won the 1995 Ohio Valley Conference championship. That year MSU was nationally ranked third in total defense, second in pass efficiency defense, 10th in rushing defense, and sixth in scoring defense. He coached first team All-American defensive back William Hampton.
Dameron moved on to Cincinnati in 1996 to take a position as the defensive secondary coach. The 1996 squad ranked 13th nationally in total defense and 14th in pass efficiency defense. In 1997, he was promoted to defensive coordinator. The Bearcats won the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl, defeating Utah State. That season the defense was ranked fifth nationally in rushing defense and 33rd in total defense. In 1998, he added special teams and academic liaison duties. Four former Bearcats under Dameron's tutelage went on to the NFL.
He took a break from coaching in the college ranks as a defensive secondary coach for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 1999. Under his tutelage, Toronto ranked first in the CFL in total defense, scoring defense and passing defense, and ranked second in rushing defense. Corner Adrion Smith was a first team All-CFL pick.
Dameron returned to college in 2000 at Eastern Illinois, where he served as defensive coordinator for the first-round playoff squad. EIU finished the season ranked No. 15 in I-AA. The Panthers finished the 2000 season ranked 27th in the nation in total defense, while pass efficiency defense finished ninth nationally.
Dameron then moved on to be defensive coordinator at Stephen F. Austin, and success immediately followed. In 2002 and 2003, the Lumberjacks were ranked in the top-10 nationally for pass efficiency defense. The 2003 squad was also ranked 29th nationally in scoring defense and led the Southland Conference in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense, and ended up second in rushing defense and total defense. Dameron worked directly with special teams and the secondary, including 2003 Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and AFCA All-American free safety Brent Hafford.
A native of Rogers, Ark., Dameron and his wife, Debbie, have one daughter, Krystle, who lives in Omaha, Neb.
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