COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State is just a few hours away from flying out for tomorrow’s game in East Lansing against Michigan State. It’s unclear which players will be on the plane because some of them will be out after testing positive for the coronavirus last week.
But Buckeye fans know Ryan Day won’t make the trip after testing positive for the coronavirus last week.
Filling in for Day will be longtime defensive line coach Larry Johnson who will make personal history and Ohio State history Saturday.
Johnson will make his college football head coaching debut against the Spartans and in the process, become the first Black head football coach at Ohio State.
“I think he’s prepared for the moment and the experience really speaks for itself,” former OSU linebacker Joshua Perry said. “I think Coach Johnson’s going to rise to the occasion.”
Perry played at Ohio State during Johnson’s first two years with the Buckeyes and knows firsthand the kind of coach and person Johnson is.
“Coach Johnson was more of a father, grandfather type,” Perry said. “He’ll put his arm around you and really talk to you, but an extremely motivational guy and somebody who we trusted right away because he had the resume.”
A resume that includes 18 years as a high school head coach with three Maryland state championships and a 2000 selection to the Maryland High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“Under the Larry Johnson era at McDonough . . . it was just like a bond. He cared about us and he did everything for us,” said Ryan Gick, a former quarterback at McDonough who won a state title playing for Johnson. “He’s truthful, he’s loyal and you believe in what he’s saying.”
After coaching high school, Johnson took a job at Penn State where he stayed for 18 years, including 14 years as the Nittany Lions’ defensive line coach.
Johnson came to OSU in 2014 as the defensive line coach and under his direction, the Buckeyes produced some of the best defensive players in football with the likes of Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa and Chase Young, three players all taken in the top three of the NFL Draft during the past five years.
It’s that success that draws players like Pickerington North’s Jack Sawyer, the No. 1 ranked player in Ohio, to the Buckeyes.
“Me being a defensive end looking at all the guys he’s developed you know put into the NFL and the guys who have developed at Ohio State made it really easy to understand that this is a guy I need to be working with,” Sawyer said.
The Buckeyes kickoff at noon and leave for East Lansing at 9:00 Friday night after one more round of testing.