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Larry Johnson (American football coach)

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Title: Larry Johnson (American football coach)  
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Larry Johnson (American football coach)

Larry Johnson
Johnson at Penn State in 2007
Sport(s) Football
Current position
Title Defensive line coach
Team Ohio State
Conference Big Ten
Biographical details
Born c. 1952
Williamston, North Carolina
Playing career
1970–1973 Elizabeth City State
Position(s) Linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Maurice J. McDonough HS (MD)
T. C. Williams HS (VA)
Penn State (DE/ST)
Penn State (DL)
Ohio State (DL)

Larry Johnson (born c. 1952) is an American football coach, currently the defensive line and assistant head coach at Ohio State University. He served as an assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University from 1996 to 2013. Johnson was a high school football coach in the Washington, D.C. area from 1983 to 1993. He is the father of National Football League running back Larry Johnson and former Penn State wide receiver Tony Johnson.

Playing career

A native of Williamston, North Carolina, Johnson was a standout linebacker at Elizabeth City State University,[1] earning NAIA All-America honors there in 1973.[2] Johnson was initiated as a member of Iota Phi Theta fraternity while attending Elizabeth City State.

High school coaching career

A legendary prep coach in the state of Maryland, Johnson was a six-time coach-of-the-year, and architect of one of the winningest football programs in the Maryland public school system. From 1983 to 1991, Johnson's teams at Maurice J. McDonough High School in Pomfret, Maryland were annually ranked among the top squads in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. In his final eight years, his teams amassed an 82-10 record, made eight consecutive appearances in the state playoffs, were 8–2 in championship games and captured three Division 3A state championships (1983, 1985, and 1990). His overall record as head coach was 139–36.

From 1992 to 1993, Johnson was head coach at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia (made famous by the film Remember the Titans). He was hired by his brother AK Johnson, the school's athletic director.

College coaching career

Johnson has been the defensive line coach at Penn State since 2000. From 1996 to 1999 he served as the Nittany Lions' defensive ends and special teams coach. In that time, Johnson has become a national power in recruiting, consistently landing top talent from the mid-Atlantic states. He has been instrumental in the development of five first-team All-Americans: Devon Still, first-round NFL draft choices Tamba Hali, Michael Haynes, and Jimmy Kennedy, and former #1 overall selection Courtney Brown.[2]

Johnson was offered the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach job at Illinois in January 2009. He ultimately decided to continue at Penn State.[3] On November 10, 2011 Tom Bradley announced that Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden would serve as co-defensive coordinators. [4] On January 7, 2012, Johnson was retained as a coach on the team's staff with the arrival of new head coach Bill O'Brien. On January 1, 2014, Johnson was named interim head coach after O'Brien's departure to the NFL.


Johnson maintains a very close relationship with his son Larry, who has repeatedly referred to his father as his "best friend" and "the only person in the world he completely trusts" in interviews.[5] Johnson's younger son Tony, was a starting wide receiver for Penn State from 2000 to 2003.


  1. ^ Coaching Database - Larry Johnson,
  2. ^ a b "Profile: Larry Johnson", Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics website
  3. ^ Fortuna, Matt (2009-04-24). "L.J. remains loyal to Lions after Illinois offer".  
  4. ^ "Bradley: Jay Paterno, Mike McQueary to coach Saturday". Press Conference Notes. 
  5. ^
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