Larry Johnson – The Ohio State University

FootballScoop is proud to announce that Larry Johnson is the 2017 FootballScoop Defensive Line Coach of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.

Ohio State’s 2017 season started with defensive coordinator Greg Schiano saying the Buckeyes’ defensive line was the best he’d ever coached — college or pro. While besting an NFL line is still a high bar to clear, Johnson did deliver the best defensive line in college football this season.

The Buckeyes ranked 12th nationally with 39 sacks and sixth with 100 tackles for loss. Many of those 100 TFLs came in Ohio State’s biggest games; the Buckeyes recorded a season-best 13 TFLs in a 39-38 win over Penn State, notched nine TFLs and six sacks in a 48-3 drubbing of Michigan State and posted seven TFLs with five sacks in a 31-20 road win at Michigan.

Against the run, Ohio State placed seventh nationally at 108.77 yards per game allowed, eighth at 3.04 yards per carry permitted, and placed among the top 25 nationally with 12 touchdowns surrendered.

The Buckeyes limited an Oklahoma offense that averaged 216 yards per game and 5.6 a carry to 104 yards and 2.81 a carry. Wisconsin, who rushed for 229 yards per game and 5.09 a carry, managed just 60 yards on 1.88 a pop in Ohio State’s Big Ten championship win. Michigan managed only 100 yards against Ohio State, while Michigan State mustered only 64.

In fact, in 11 games against Power 5 opponents, only Iowa rushed for more than 3.18 yards per carry against Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ 35 rushing yards of 10-plus yards allowed were the sixth-fewest in college football. Additionally, Ohio State placed 17th in FBS by surrendering third down conversion on only 32.14 percent of opponents’ attempts.

As a team, OU placed eighth in total defense at 292.3 yards per game, fifth at 4.38 yards per play, and 20th in scoring defense at 19.9 points per game.

Sophomore Nick Bosa led the club with seven sacks and 14.5 TFLs, and senior Tyquan Lewis also finished in the top 100 nationally with six sacks. Bosa and Lewis were both named First Team All-Big Ten performers, while Sam Hubbard was a Second Team All-Big Ten honoree and Dre’mont Jones was a Third Team All-Big Ten honoree.

Johnson has been on Urban Meyer’s staff as assistant head coach and defensive line coach since 2014. An Elizabeth City State graduate, Johnson began his career in the high school ranks — including as head coach of famed T.C. Williams High School, of “Remember the Titans” fame — he joined the college ranks as defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator at Penn State in 1996, where he remained until moving to Columbus.

The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Inoke Breckterfield [Wisconsin], Brett Diersen [Northern Illinois], Zarnell Fitch/Dan Sharp [TCU], Rodney Garner [Auburn], Ikaika Malloe [Washington] and Johnson) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year’s winner.

Johnson will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.

Previous winners of the Defensive Line Coach of the Year award are Dick Bumpas (TCU, 2008), Jim Panagos (Central Florida, 2009), Bill Kirelawich (West Virginia, 2010), Brick Haley (LSU, 2011), Randy Hart (Stanford, 2012), Ron Burton (Michigan State, 2013), Craig Kuligowski (Missouri, 2014), Bo Davis (Alabama, 2015) and Greg Mattison (Michigan, 2016).

keystats

7th Nationally – Rushing Defense           6th Nationally – Tackles For Loss
12th Nationally – Sacks           Big Ten Champions

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National columnist – Zach joined the staff in 2012…and has been attempting to improve Doug and Scott’s writing ability ever since (to little avail). Outside of football season, you can find him watching the San Antonio Spurs reading Game of Thrones fan theories.