Ohio State has promoted defensive line coach Larry Johnson the program announced on Monday. Johnson will still be in charge of the defensive line for his sixth season with the Buckeyes but the veteran coach has been promoted to associate head coach. This news came on the same day Ohio State announced the hiring of former Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison and San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley as co-defensive coordinators.
“Larry’s experience at Ohio State will allow him to have a major role in the guidance and direction of this program,” Day said in the press release announcing the coaching changes. “His promotion to associate head coach is well earned. Larry is a wonderful teacher and mentor, and his players always become a part of his family. I am thrilled that he will continue to be a part of this program.”
Johnson came to Ohio State in 2014, replacing former defensive line coach Mike Vrabel who left to become the linebackers coach with the NFL’s Houston Texans. In his first season as a Buckeye, the Scarlet and Gray won the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship. During that year, Johnson’s defensive linemen combined for 30.5 sacks and quickly established themselves as one of the best units in the country.
Over his six seasons at Ohio State, Johnson has coached 14 players to either the Big Ten defensive player of the year or defensive lineman of the year awards. The Buckeyes had a run of four consecutive conference lineman of the year winners — Joey Bosa in 2014 and 2015, Tyquan Lewis in 2016 and Nick Bosa in 2017 — that ended this past season. Joey Bosa was also named the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year in 2014. Johnson has also coached 11 first-team All-Americans and seven first-round NFL Draft selections. Nick Bosa will add to that list this spring after learning under Johnson that last three years.
Before coming to Ohio State, Johnson spent 17 seasons at Penn State. Johnson began with the Nittany Lions as the defensive ends and special teams coach in 1996 before becoming the program’s defensive line coach in 2000. Johnson remained in State College until 2014 when he left for Columbus following the hiring of James Franklin at Penn State.
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At 67 years old, there have been plenty of rumors surrounding how long Johnson will continue coaching. This has reportedly been used against him in recruiting but did not have an impact this year as Johnson landed five-star defensive Zach Harrison, four-star defensive end Noah Potter and three-star defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie. as part of the 2019 recruiting class.