Football

Morning Conversational: What’s It Like Being Coached By Larry Johnson?

Larry Johnson Ohio State Buckeyes

Today’s Topic: What’s It Like Being Coached By Larry Johnson?


There aren’t any defensive line coaches in college football more well-regarded than Ohio State’s Larry Johnson.

The performances of his players speak for themselves, be they at Penn State or Ohio State.

The All-Americans, the NFL draft picks, these are the legacies seen by those on the outside.

Those on the inside, however, see a coach who is meticulous with his players. And his players work hard to keep from disappointing him.

“He doesn’t yell at us, but you’ll know when he’s disappointed in you,” sophomore nose tackle Tommy Togiai said this spring. “Like if you jump offsides or you don’t do something or you’re not working hard, you’ll know and he’ll give you that look and you’ll know.”

Johnson will also frequently keep his players on their toes by texting them a few things they need to be ready for the next day.

“Oh yeah, he does,” said sophomore defensive end Tyreke Smith. “He doesn’t even do pen and paper. He’ll send us a coverage or something like that and he’ll come in the morning like, ‘Hey, you, what’s this coverage? What do we do when it’s like this?’ So he makes sure we’re on it, that we’re on top of our stuff.”

But it isn’t just quizzes. The film work that the players put in with Johnson is always key, and it requires hours of study by Johnson.

It’s those little things that allow his players to improve in ways they didn’t even realize were possible.

“My stance used to be kind of down, my hips weren’t up,” Smith said of one of his film sessions with Johnson. “And basically, he just kept going. We would go in the film and we wouldn’t even start the play, he’d start critiquing me, giving me like 10 pointers while it was paused. I’m like, ‘we haven’t even started the play yet, Coach!'”

But that’s what makes Larry Johnson the technician he is, and this is what it’s like to be coached by him.

“The tape is paused, and he’s like, ‘look at your heels! Your heels are too high and you’re not going to get off the ball as fast, your hips aren’t snapping so you don’t get power,'” Smith said. “I’m like ‘dang, Coach!’ I’m taking notes and stuff. So yeah, I think that’s what makes him Larry Johnson. Those key things, the little things are what makes the big difference.”

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