Larry Johnson is officially an Ohio State Buckeye.
OSU made the announcement Wednesday, naming Johnson the next assistant head coach and defensive line coach for the Buckeyes, according to a press release.
“I am very pleased that Larry Johnson is an Ohio State Buckeye,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said in the release. “I have great respect for him as a family man, as a coach and mentor of young men and as a recruiter. He is an outstanding addition to our coaching staff.”
Johnson spent the last 18 years of his career at Penn State, including overseeing the entire defensive line for the last 14 years. He also spent 20 years coaching high school football in Maryland and Virginia, according to the release.
“In just a few hours I can tell that Ohio State cares about football,” Johnson said in the release. “There is a winning tradition that is important here. They care about academics and they care about players, and I like the way coach Urban Meyer approaches things. He’s a great teacher. He is very organized and this is what I was looking for.”
Johnson is set to replace former Buckeye defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, who announced via Twitter Jan. 9 he was leaving OSU to take a job with the Houston Texans of the NFL. Vrabel’s jump to the NFL comes after Houston announced the hiring of former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien Jan. 3.
While coaching at Penn State, six of Johnson’s defensive linemen were first-round NFL Draft selections, most recently Jared Odrick in 2010. Johnson also coached seven first-team All-Americans on the defensive line in his time at State College, Pa., including Courtney Brown, who was picked No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft in 2000.
Since 1996, Johnson’s first season with the Nittany Lions, no other Big Ten team has had as many players from one position win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year than the five defensive ends Johnson coached.
“I am really impressed with the Ohio State players. I just met a group of players, walked out of the room and thought, ‘wow,’ these are kinds of players I want to coach,” Johnson said. “They were really impressive.”
Johnson, who grew up in Williamston, N.C., coached a defense that led the nation in sacks from 2005-09. He focuses on fundamentals and forming relationships with the players he coaches, according to the release.
“I’m a relationship guy and I think in order to get the best out of your players you have to develop relationships,” Johnson said in a released statement. “I’m also a teacher. I like to teach the basic fundamentals of football. I want guys who are fundamentally sound and have the ability to play fast and to play relentless.”
Johnson’s salary was not immediately available Wednesday evening, per OSU. The man he is replacing at OSU, Vrabel, earned a base salary of $291,004 last season, according to the USA TODAY coaches database.
According to PennLive, Johnson was offered to remain as defensive line coach for the Nittany Lions by their new head coach — James Franklin — but declined.
The Buckeyes are set to open their 2014 campaign Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
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