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Q&A with Ohio State assistant Taver Johnson

May 3, 2010 Staff

Taver Johnson is entering his 4th season as the cornerbacks coach at Ohio State. Before joining Jim Tressel's staff in Columbus, Johnson served as the defensive coordinator / assistant head coach at Miami (OH). In 2004, he coached the special teams with the Cleveland Browns.

What is unique about working with your defensive coordinator Jim Heacock?

Jim has over 35 years of experience in coaching. His knowledge, experience of coaching in big games, and tutoring numerous NFL players is outstanding. Working with Coach Heacock is great. He doesn’t micro-manage. He lets you coach. As an assistant coach, that’s what you really want. We have a great situation here.

What is something you will harp on during August practice with the cornerbacks?

I’ll continue to harp on discipline. It sounds cliché, but discipline is so critical. Coaching the corners, our eye discipline and technique…both have to be consistent. Sometimes our corners will use their instincts to make a break on the ball, but it all starts with their eyes and technique.

Ohio State assistant Taver Johnson

What is something you really like that your head coach implements at practice?

I really like how Coach Tressel handles the practice schedule. During the season, we will give our scout team a break for a few periods while the 1’s go thud against the 1’s. The 2’s will go thud against the 2’s. We’ll then come back and get a few more periods against the scouts. The scout team stays fresh and the overall energy on the practice from everyone remains high. Coach Tressel just has a tremendous feel for our players and how to be efficient on the practice fields.

Ohio State probably has the largest staff in the country. You guys have a director of external affairs, director of football performance, director of player development, associate director of player development, and several other support staff employees. After your first year at Ohio State, what is something that just amazed you about the entire operation within the football department?

Our support staff is really terrific. Some of the staff, they are great listeners. They are extra ears for our players. Our support staff is important is terms of the development of our players. Even though we do have a large staff, it’s not at all like the NFL. We’re about people. It’s not a business feel in our office. We take pride in helping our players succeed, most importantly, as people. There are different phases of a young man’s life that each of our support staff can help with. Again, Coach Tressel and our staff really want to develop our young guys as people, not just players.

Everyone has been around a GA that busts his tail. As a full-time coach, who is the best GA you have ever worked with? Why was he so good to work with? What’s he doing now?

It’s hard to say just one. Chris Hauser, who just left Ohio State to become the defensive coordinator at Capital University (OH) was a real worker, very professional, and did everything with a smile. Sometimes you will have a GA that will do everything, but not necessarily with a smile and good attitude. Fred Pagac and Craig Aukerman both connected extremely well with the players. Both guys had the “it” factor in terms of coaches. Fred is now coaching the Florida UFL franchise and Craig left Kent State in the off-season to join the Denver Broncos staff as assistant linebackers coach. Because of their ability to interact well with the players, both guys gained more responsibility during their tenure as a grad assistant.

Outside of work, what is the 1 thing you really enjoy about living in Columbus?

I grew up and have family in Cincinnati, which is a short drive from Columbus. In coaching, you don’t have much control over where you live. Fortunately for me, coaching at Ohio State is really convenient for my family. We can see our relatives in Cincinnati quite often.

How long is your drive to work from your house? What are you usually listening to?

20 minutes. To me, that’s about perfect because it allows me to unwind from the day. It’s not too close, not too far. I don’t like to take my work day emotions back to my family.

In season, which day of the week besides Saturday do you look forward to the most?

Thursday is our day to sharpen up everything. We take a lot of pride in scripting together our Thursday practice plan. We want to have great speed and execute at a high level on Thursdays. Of course, our coaches are off after practice on Thursdays. I look forward to going home with the family, eating dinner, and spending time with the kids.

What is one place around town that the Ohio State coaching staff likes to eat lunch?

Roosters is a great place. Most of the guys on the staff eat pretty regularly at Roosters. We like to take our high school coaches to Roosters during clinics. Good chicken wings and pizza.