Day Completes His First Coaching Staff

By Jeff Rapp, January 28th, 2019

Since the Ohio State football team won the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day and ended up No. 3 in the final rankings for the 2018 season, the Buckeyes have been in scramble mode to figure out the makeup of their roster and coaching staff.

Just in recent days we’ve learned that Buckeye skill players Tate Martell and Brian Snead are heading out of the program as transfers and defenders Dre’Mont Jones and Kendall Sheffield are among those who are leaving eligibility on the table to pursue work in the NFL.

The expectation is that transfer Justin Fields will take over at quarterback for the departed Dwayne Haskins but the two-deep will be a work in progress all the way until late in preseason camp.

However, head coach Ryan Day, who took over for the retired Urban Meyer on Jan. 2, has rounded out his staff as all 10 full-time positions have been filled.

On Wednesday, the university confirmed the names and roles of the newcomers that had been reported in the past couple weeks. Clearly, Day, who arrived as a QBs coach and someone who could help manage the offense, wants to build on the record-breaking accomplishments of Haskins and the ball movers produced in 2018.

In fact, all five of the offensive assistants are staying put in Columbus and four of the five coaches Day has added to the group will coach on the defensive side of the ball.

“I am really excited with this foundation of coaches who will mentor, coach and prepare in all areas the young men in our program,” Day said. “I am obviously very comfortable with the coaches who have been here and helped us win consecutive Big Ten championships and bowl games, and I am thrilled they want to continue to help this program pursue championships and achievements.

“I am also confident the new assistant coaches will make an immediate impact on this program. I’m really looking forward to working with this staff these next couple months shaping the program and developing our players for the 2019 season.”

The Day era already is off to a rather strong start as Ohio State led all schools with 90 touchdown passes and set Big Ten Conference records in total offensive yards per game, passing yards and passing touchdowns the past two years while he tutored the QBs and helped coordinate the offense.

The defense has lost the likes of trusted assistants Luke Fickell and Kerry Coombs in recent years and now will trudge onward without co-coordinators Greg Schiano and Alex Grinch as well as linebackers coach Bill Davis and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson. Among the new faces on board to rejuvenate the defense are veteran coordinator Greg Mattison and LBs coach Al Washington – both of them coming from archrival Michigan.

The following is a look at OSU’s 10-man staff under Day:

Offensive Coaches

Kevin Wilson
Offensive Coordinator / Tight Ends
Wilson is in his third season with the Buckeyes as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. A former head coach in the Big Ten for six years at Indiana, Wilson has experience at multiple offensive positions including directing some of the most innovative and prolific offenses in the nation. Ohio State has averaged 506.0 and 535.6 yards of offense per game, respectively, in Wilson’s first two seasons with the program. Twice he’s been on an offensive staff – at Oklahoma and Indiana – that has produced a 3,500-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same year.

Mike Yurcich
Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Yurcich was named to the Ohio State staff on Jan. 2 after working as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator for the past six seasons. Yurcich, who is originally from Euclid, Ohio, has spent 20 years coaching at the collegiate level within a variety of divisions. Oklahoma State experienced one of its great offensive eras under Yurcich, with the program averaging 38.0 points per game and 478.3 yards per game throughout his six-year run. The Cowboys scored 40 or more points 35 times (in 76 games) and put up 50 or more points 15 times.

Tony Alford
Assistant Head Coach for Offense / Running Backs
Alford is in his fifth season at Ohio State and his 22nd season as a running backs coach. He has coached a 1,000-yard runner in each of his first four seasons with Ohio State: Ezekiel Elliott (2015), Mike Weber (2016), J.K. Dobbins (2017 and 2018). Elliott won Big Ten Conference offensive player of the year and Chicago Tribune Silver Football award honors; Weber was the league’s freshman of the year; and Dobbins is the first running back in Ohio State history to surpass 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman and sophomore.

Brian Hartline
Wide Receivers
Hartline, who coached a receiver unit in 2018 to Ohio State single season records for receptions, yards and touchdowns, was elevated to permanent receiver’s coach by Day in December. Hartline is a 2009 Ohio State University graduate who spent seven seasons in the National Football League with six years as a Miami Dolphin and his final season with the Cleveland Browns. Hartline played for the Scarlet and Gray from 2005 through 2008 and was a part of four Big Ten championship teams – meaning he’s been with six Ohio State teams and has won six Big Ten titles.

Greg Studrawa
Offensive Linemen
“Stud” is in his fourth year at Ohio State and this will be his 27th season coaching offensive linemen. In his three seasons with Ohio State, the Buckeyes rank second in the Big Ten and eighth among Power 5 teams in rushing and in 2018 the team was third in the Big Ten in fewest sacks allowed while setting Big Ten records for pass completions, yards and touchdowns. Studrawa has already coached two major award winners – Rimington Trophy winners Pat Elflein and Billy Price – and three All-Americans at Ohio State, including Michael Jordan this past season. His 2016 offensive line was one of three finalists for the Joe Moore Offensive Line Award.

Defensive Coaches

Jeff Hafley
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach
Hafley, who has spent the past seven seasons in the NFL and most recently three seasons coaching the defensive backs with the San Francisco 49ers, was named to the staff on Jan. 6. “I’ve had some great defensive back coaches, some great defensive coaches and defensive minds,” said 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who played for Hafley in 2018. “He is right up there with his preparation and how he breaks down film … how easy and simple he makes the game plan sound and how easy he makes it for guys to understand.”

Greg Mattison
Co-Defensive Coordinator
Mattison joined the Ohio State coaching staff in January, 2019. He carries a thorough knowledge of the Big Ten Conference as he has coached the past eight seasons at Michigan. He has been the defensive line coach for the Wolverines the past four seasons. Mattison’s work has helped four consecutive Michigan defenses rank in the top 5 nationally in total defense and pass defense, and it has been top five in pass efficiency defense during three of those seasons.

Larry Johnson
Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach
Johnson was promoted to associate head coach earlier this month and remains a defensive line coach. Johnson is one of the great defensive line coaches in football, and he has coached 14 Big Ten Conference defensive players of the year or defensive linemen of the year, including a run of four consecutive Ohio State winners of the league’s defensive linemen of the year award: Joey Bosa in 2014 and 2015; Tyquan Lewis in 2016 and Nick Bosa in 2017. Johnson has also coached 11 first-team All-Americans and seven first-round NFL draft picks.

Matt Barnes
Special Team’s Coordinator / Assistant Secondary Coach
Barnes, who spent the last three seasons coaching at the University of Maryland, was named Ohio State’s special team’s coordinator and assistant secondary coach in early January, 2019. Barnes has 10 years of coaching experience. This past season, he served as linebacker coach and specials team’s coordinator at Maryland. Linebacker Tre Watson was a first-team all-Big Ten performer, and on special teams the Terrapins ranked 18th nationally and third in the Big Ten with a 23.9 yard average on kickoff returns. Maryland had two players – Ty Johnson and Tavion Jacobs – who averaged better than 25 yards per kick return.

Al Washington
Columbus, Ohio, native Al Washington brings 12 years of college coaching experience into this first season with the Buckeyes. This past season Washington coached linebackers at Michigan, helping the Wolverines produce the nation’s No. 3-ranked overall defense and the second-ranked unit against the pass. Washington mentored consensus All-American and Butkus Award finalist Devin Bush, who was the Big Ten’s Woodson-Nagurski Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year. All three of his linebackers earned all-Big Ten honors this past season.