5 things to know about Ohio State football’s newest defensive coaches 

Ohio State football coaches Taver Johnson and Alex Grinch met with the media Wednesday, their first opportunity to do so since they joined Urban Meyer’s staff. 

This is a homecoming for both, though in different ways. 

Here are five things to know about the duo and what they bring to the Buckeyes

1. Johnson is in his second stint at Ohio State. 

A Cincinnati native who starred at Wittenberg, he was cornerbacks coach for the Buckeyes from 2007-11, including four of those seasons under head coach Jim Tressel. 

He is coaching that position again, but it sounds like not much is the same as when he left. 

The Woody Hayes Athletic Center received a significant upgrade (still ongoing) and Meyer has established a different mindset inside it. 

“You walk in the door every day and you’re going 100 miles an hour,” Johnson said. “We were able to do some really good things when I was here with Coach Tressel, which I’m thankful for again. It allowed me to come back.” 

Johnson also has the title of special teams coordinator. 

2. He wants to keep sending players to the NFL.

Five Ohio State cornerbacks have been drafted — four in the first round — since Kerry Coombs replaced Johnson as the coach of that position six seasons ago. 

(That includes Bradley Roby and Doran Grant, who were recruited by and also played for Johnson). 

“Kerry has done a great job with those guys,” Johnson said. “The whole staff has done an outstanding job. Not just producing those first-rounders but the quality young men who have come through these doors.” 

Three corners were drafted during Johnson’s tenure with Malcolm Jenkins being the only first-rounder.  

“I told the guys I already know I have some big shoes to fill, and I’m accepting that challenge,” Johnson said. “That’s the one thing about Ohio State: Not just the talent base, the people who come into the program are just really, really great people. (Coach Meyer) attracts those types of people to the staff as well as players.”

3. Grinch is glad to be back home, too. 

He was happy at Washington State, where he said coach Mike Leach gave him full control of the defense, but Ohio State presented too great an opportunity for the Central Ohio native who graduated from Mount Union to pass up. 

“Any time you devote your life to a profession and one of the elite programs or organizations with an elite coaching staff and elite leadership, when you have a chance to take one of those phone calls you have to really have your antennas up,” he said. “If that’s not an opportunity you’re going to look into, you better have some good reasons.” 

He will coach safeties and serve as co-defensive coordinator with Greg Schiano in Columbus. 

4. Not much figures to change schematically. 

Grinch often deployed a three-man defensive line with the Cougars, leading some to wonder if that might be in the cards for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have mostly used a four-man front since the early 1990s, but Grinch said there are more similarities than differences between his attack and what has been done under Schiano.  

Grinch explained he is more about an aggressive, pressure-packed style of play than play call, and “that style of play is evident here when you turn on the film.” 

5. They both are  impressed with the environment Meyer has created. 

While Grinch declined to compare Meyer with the quirky Leach, Johnson ticked off positives of working for both Tressel and Meyer, whose success has been largely credited to an all-consuming drive for perfection. 

The high expectations put in place by his new boss have already paid dividends, Johnson said. 

“It challenges you as a coach. It challenges you as a person, and just these eight or nine days I’ve been back, it has already made me better.” 

Reader Comments

Next Up in Sports

Ohio State players describe finding out Urban Meyer is retiring, what made him successful
Ohio State players describe finding out Urban Meyer is retiring, what made him successful

Some Buckeyes were caught off guard by Urban Meyer’s announcement he will retire from coaching Ohio State after the Rose Bowl. Others not so much. Robert Landers said the Dec. 4 announcement, “was kind of out of nowhere,” and Chris Olave recalled having no idea what was in store when the team gathered at the Woody Hayes Athletic...
Disciplined Springfield earns hard-fought win at Centerville
Disciplined Springfield earns hard-fought win at Centerville

Springfield High School boys basketball coach Isaiah Carson knew the key to beating rival Centerville was playing disciplined — especially on the defensive end of the floor. The Wildcats had to stay structured in the paint against Centerville 6-foot-9 post player Mo Njie, who stood four inches taller than any player on Springfield’s roster...
HS Scores 12/14: Hall leads Fairmont in win over ‘Boro

Boys Basketball Friday’s Results Alter 40, McNicholas 38: Uhl (A) 19; Burkhardt (M) 16. Ansonia 40, Newton 37, OT: Jamison (N) 11. Arcanum 47, National Trail 41: Meeks (A) 26; Harris (NT) 10. Benjamin Logan 70, Graham 69, OT Butler 58, Troy 50 Catholic Central 68, Cedarville 48 Cin. Christian 70, New Miami 52: Reutener (CC) 15; Duncan (NM) 23...
HS Roundup 12/14: Spears, Ellis push Stivers past Thurgood Marshall

Ivynn Spears sank the go-ahead foul shot with nine seconds to play, giving Stivers a 59-58 victory versus Thurgood Marshall in boys basketball on Friday. Trevon Ellis led the way for Stivers with 16 points and Da’Juan Allen tacked on 14. Anthony McComb paced Thurgood with 18 points. Boys Basketball Alter 40, McNicholas 38: Brady Uhl led the way...
Girls basketball power rankings: Who are the top teams in the area?
Girls basketball power rankings: Who are the top teams in the area?

Here’s who we consider the top girls high school basketball teams for the area power rankings. Division I 1. Centerville (5-0): d. Trotwood-Madison 88-34, d. Springfield 70-34; hosts Beavercreek on Sat., hosts Wayne on Mon. 2. Wayne (4-1): d. Wilmington 55-46; at Miamisburg on Sat., at Centerville on Mon., hosts Belmont on Wed. 3. Tecumseh (3-2)...
More Stories