Taver Johnson could not write a much better ending to his first season back at Ohio State.
The cornerbacks coach is set to ring in the new year on the West Coast with his family before coaching the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.
“The school is nice enough to let our families come so they’ve been having a blast,” Johnson said Sunday during media day at the stadium. “It’s been work as usual for us, but when we get some free time we can be with them. To be in California at the ‘Graddaddy of Them All,’ it doesn’t get any better than this. You come through the trees, you come through the neighborhood and see the stadium, you get chills.”
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A Wittenberg Hall of Honor member who also coached at Ohio State from 2007-10 under Jim Tressel, Johnson said he learned much about coaching on and off the field during a year working for Urban Meyer.
“I’ve really grown as a person, as a coach,” Johnson said. “Coach Meyer does a great job with that, just like coach Tressel, in terms of being able to give you leeway to make sure you’re teaching the right way but also having a chance to teach you how to teach. And not just football. Everything. To make sure the players are well-rounded people, so it’s been great.”
He’s optimistic about the future of the program as Meyer plans to step down after the Rose Bowl and be replaced by offensive coordinator Ryan Day.
“I think it’s gonna be great,” Johnson said. “Go back to the first three games of the season, hopefully Buckeye Nation just got a taste of that. He didn’t just kind of hang on. He did some unbelievable things and the guys are fired up about him and excited for the next wave.”
The Cincinnati native signed a two-year contract with a base annual salary of $345,000 last winter and said he anticipates continuing at Ohio State under Day, who has been given full power to set his staff.
“I’m sure we’ll have some more conversations once the game is over and recruiting takes over,” Johnson said. “Definitely want to stick around.”
He acknowledged this season was frustrating at times as the pass defense struggled and the cornerbacks were frequently flagged for pass interference.
“You want them to succeed every snap, to be at their best, and we weren’t at times,” Johnson said. “We weren’t as consistent. We got better as the year went on. We’ve got a long way to go. The one thing those guys did, they worked. They didn’t complain. The changes we needed to make, they were ready to do it. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Johnson also hopes to be an asset on the recruiting trail, where the Queen City is part of his responsibility.
“That’s my home and having the ties not just with the high school coaches, but now the people I’ve grown up with have children who are high school age, so I’ve got the plug in that way with the little league coaches and things like that,” Johnson said. “That part has been great, to go back and represent the Buckeyes.”
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