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Urban makes two key defensive hires at Ohio State

When James Franklin was finally announced as Penn State's head coach late last week, many in college football cried with joy in anticipation with the war - in the standings, on the recruiting trail and everywhere in between - he would wage with Urban Meyer and Ohio State. 

Turns out Urban isn't waiting around to fire the first shot.

Ohio State will hire Chris Ash away from Arkansas and pluck Larry Johnson off of free agency, multiple outlets are reporting.

Ash will serve as co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in Columbus after serving as Bret Bielema's defensive coordinator for the last three seasons at Wisconsin and Arkansas. In Madison, Ash oversaw the Badgers' pass defense and helped the club reach three consecutive Rose Bowls. A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, Ash is a lifer in Big Ten territory; he played at Drake and spent nearly a decade at Iowa State before his arrival at Wisconsin. Coupled with defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Charlie Partridge getting the Florida Atlantic head job, Arkansas has now lost two key defensive staffers off a unit that finished 76th in total defense and 89th in scoring defense in 2013.

In Johnson, Ohio State gets a well-respected assistant that worked at Penn State for 17 seasons. Johnson is a fiery, inspiring motivator, a proven tactician and will give the Buckeyes a shot in the arm in recruiting Pennsylvania and the Washington, D.C. area. Johnson told he was twice offered a spot on Franklin's staff but elected to move on.

The pair will combine to improve a Buckeyes' defense that finished 47th nationally in total defense, 39th in yards per play, 112th in passing yards allowed and 84th in pass efficiency defense. After a perfect regular season and rising to a No. 2 national ranking, Ohio State dropped its final two games to Michigan State and Clemson - allowing 74 points in the process.