Larry Johnson
Larry  Johnson

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line

Alma Mater:
Elizabeth City State, 1973


Tyquan Lewis, Cam Johnston Headline OSU's Big Ten Honorees

Lewis, McMillan, Hooker, Lattimore and Johnston garner first-team honors


No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Nebraska

The Buckeyes welcome the Cornhuskers to Ohio Stadium for a Top-10 Showdown.

Larry Johnson
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line
The Ohio State University

Larry Johnson is in his fourth season as assistant head coach and defensive line coach with the Ohio State football program. He was named to his position in early January, 2014.

Johnson is highly regarded as both coach and mentor. One really good reason: no Big Ten Conference program in the last 20 years, outside of Ohio State, has developed more Big Ten defensive players of the year and Big Ten defensive lineman of the year than the 13 that Johnson has coached since 1996.

After coaching nine such honorees during his 18 seasons at Penn State, Johnson has seen Joey Bosa win conference defensive lineman of the year honors twice (2014 and 2015) and the league defensive player of the year award in 2014. And last year, Tyquan Lewis was named the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year. Bosa was also a consensus All-American the last two years and Michael Bennett earned All-America honors in 2014 as well, giving Johnson a total of 10 All-American defensive linemen.

Standout Sam Hubbard was a first-team Academic All-American in 2016, the fourth player to earn this prestigious academic honor under Johnson.

Mentoring is a critical aspect to the successes Johnson and the student-athletes he coaches have realized.

“I’m a relationship guy and I think in order to get the best out of your players you have to develop relationships,” Johnson said. “I’m also a teacher. I like to teach the basic fundamentals of football. I want guys who are fundamentally sound and have the ability to play fast and to play relentless.”

Johnson grew up in Williamston, N.C., and is a 1973 graduate of Elizabeth City (N.C.) State University with a degree in health and physical education. He came to Ohio State after coaching along the defensive line for 18 years at Penn State, including the last 14 seasons (2000-13) overseeing the entire unit. He spent his first four seasons at Penn State – 1996-99 – as defensive ends coach and special team’s coordinator.

While Ohio State is Johnson’s second collegiate coaching stop, his career includes 20 years of high school coaching in Maryland and Virginia.

Johnson came to Ohio State with a resume full of accomplishments while at Penn State:

• Six of his defensive linemen were first-round NFL draft picks, including No. 1 overall pick Courtney Brown in 2000 and also featuring Jimmy Kennedy (2002), Michael Haynes (2003), Tamba Hali (2006), Jared Odrick (2010) and Aaron Mabin (2009).
• Seven of his defensive linemen achieved first-team All-American status (the six listed above and Devon Still).
• PSU defensive linemen earned 22 Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors.
• Three of his position players earned Academic All-American status (Tim Shaw in 2006 and Pete Massaro in 2010 and 2012).
• Fifteen Nittany Lion defensive linemen were named first-team all-Big Ten Conference.

In addition, he coached on a Penn State defense that led the nation in sacks between 2005 and 2009 and was No. 5 nationally in rushing defense from 2004-10. And between 1996 and 2013 Penn State’s defense was a Big Ten Conference statistical champion 14 times, including four times in quarterback sacks and three times in scoring defense.

Johnson spent the first 20 years of his career as a highly successful high school coach. Six times chosen as the Washington Metropolitan Area coach of the year, he guided McDonough High School in Pomfret, Md., to three Maryland state championships and to a 139-36 record between 1975-91, and he also was coach two seasons (1992-93) at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. He started his coaching career in 1974 at Lackey High School in LaPlata, Md.

As a player, Johnson was an NAIA All-American and all-conference performer at Elizabeth City State University. He was inducted into the school’s sports Hall of Fame in 1990. He played one year in the NFL, with the Washington Redskins in 1973.

Johnson and his wife, Christine, are the parents of two sons – Larry Jr. and Tony – and a daughter, Teresa. Larry Jr. and Tony both played football at Penn State with Larry Jr. rushing for a school record 2,087 yards in 2002 and later becoming a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs and a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Teresa played softball for the Nittany Lions.

Larry Johnson Quick Facts
Hometown: Williamston, N.C.
Alma Mater: Elizabeth City State, 1973
Degree: Health & Physical Education
Years in Coaching: 41st (Fourth at Ohio State)
Family: Wife, Christine; sons, Larry Jr. & Tony (Karin); daughter, Tersea & grandchildren Tony Jr., Laila, Deklen & Jaylen.

Larry Johnson Coaching Assignments

2014-pres. Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Ohio State University
2000-13 Defensive Line Penn State University
1996-99 Defensive Ends/Special Teams Coordinator Penn State Universisty
1992-93 Head Coach T.C. Williams H.S.
1975-91 Head Coach McDonough H.S.
1974 Assistant Coach Lackey H.S.