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January 15, 2014

Buckeyes make a big hire

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Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes knew they needed to make a splash with their next two hires on the coaching staff and the addition of Larry Johnson is about as big of a splash as they could make within the region and the Big Ten. The long-time Penn State assistant spent almost 20 years in State College and now will join the Ohio State staff and fill a need for a defensive line coach, Johnson will also hold the title of assistant head coach.

Before getting his start in college coaching Johnson had a standout career in the high school ranks in the state of Maryland and Johnson was a six-time coach of the year at McDonough high school in Pomfret (Md.). Johnson joined the Penn State staff in 1996 and started as a defensive end/special teams coach through the 1999 season. Johnson was then elevated in 2000 to being the coach of the defensive line and that was a position that he held until earlier this week when he left the Nittany Lions.

"I am very pleased that Larry Johnson is an Ohio State Buckeye," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "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."

The Buckeyes needed to fill a spot with the departure of Mike Vrabel to the Houston Texans and Johnson has a proven track record through the years in developing talent on the defensive line as well as recruiting the Washington (D.C.) and Maryland area very well.

Johnson was key in the development of seven first-team All-Americans including Devon Still, Tamba Hail, Michael Haynes, Jimmy Kennedy and former No. 1 pick Courtney Brown.

"In just a few hours I can tell that Ohio State cares about football," Johnson said. "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.

"And 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 the kinds of players I want to coach. They were really impressive."

The former Penn State position coach was reportedly offered a position to stay on James Franklin's staff but he declined deciding that he was meant to coach elsewhere. It did not take long for Johnson to find a new place to coach with this sudden hiring by the Buckeyes.

Now Johnson will likely get to the recruiting trail with only a couple of weeks left before National Signing Day but Johnson is also looking forward to working with the players on the team once spring practice arrives and his role as a teacher is something he takes very seriously.

"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. "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."

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