Three weeks after officially taking over as head coach of the Ohio State football team, Ryan Day finalized the group that will comprise his first staff.
While the men who helped put together an offense that shattered multiple school and Big Ten passing records was largely kept intact, few who were part of assembling a defense that allowed the most points and yards in school history will be back.
“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 via a press release confirming roles for the offensive staff that were previously in question with Urban Meyer retiring and Day being promoted from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Mike Yurcich, a native of Euclid, Ohio, will take over as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator after six successful seasons coordinating an explosive spread offense at Oklahoma State.
He is the only newcomer on offense, where Greg Studrawa returns as offensive line coach and Kevin Wilson will continue to coach tight ends.
Wilson is now the only member of the staff with the title “offensive coordinator,” one he and Day both had last season.
(Studrawa and Wilson both joined the Ohio State staff prior to the 2017 season.)
Tony Alford is back as running backs coach and assistant head coach. In four years at Ohio State, the Colorado native has produced four 1,000-yard rushers, including J.K. Dobbins the past two seasons.
Brian Hartline is set for his first season as a permanent member of the staff. A former Buckeye who spent seven season in the NFL, Hartline was the interim receivers coach last season and promoted in December.
The defense apparently will be overseen by the triumvirate of Larry Johnson, Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley.
Johnson was promoted to associate head coach and will remain defensive line coach. In five seasons at Ohio State, he has produce four Big Ten defensive linemen of the year (Joey Bosa twice, Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa).
Mattison is listed as co-defensive coordinator but does not have a position group, as was the case with former defensive coordinator Greg Schiano last season.
Mattison has predominantly coached the defensive line or linebackers during a long coaching career, including the past eight seasons at Michigan.
Hafley is a co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He returns to college football after seven seasons in the NFL, where he worked under a variety of coaches and in multiple types of schemes.
>>READ MORE about some of the new OSU assistants
Matt Barnes will be the special teams coordinator and assistant secondary coach after spending the last three seasons at Maryland, where he coordinated special teams and coached linebackers.
Barnes and Hafley will be tasked with improving a young, talented group of cornerbacks and safeties who struggled mightily last season under new coaches Taver Johnson and Alex Grinch, respectively.
Also expected to give a disappointing position group a lift is Al Washington, a Columbus native who mentored Big Ten defensive player and linebacker of the year Devin Bush at Michigan last season.
Taver Johnson was not retained by Day while Grinch left to be defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Schiano and linebackers coach Bill Davis both plan to return to the NFL.
“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,” Day said. “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.”
Johnson is considered an elite recruiter, particularly in Maryland and Virginia, where he was a high school football coach prior to a long tenure as defensive line coach at Penn State.
Mattison and Washington are also regarded as excellent recruiters, both having pulled players from Ohio to Michigan in recent years.
Overall, the staff has an interesting combination of youth and experience.
The 39-year-old Day is one of five staffers who are 43 or younger (Yurcich is 43, Hartline 32, Hafley 39, Washington 34 and Barnes 32).
Meanwhile, the other assistants are all 50 or older, topped by the 69-year-old Mattison and 66-year-old Johnson, who both started coaching before Hartline or Barnes were born.
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