Sources have confirmed to BuckeyeHuddle.com the addition of James Laurinaitis to the Ohio State coaching staff in the role of defensive graduate assistant. This news was later confirmed by Ohio State with a press release announcing the move.
Laurinaitis played linebacker for Ohio State from 2005-2008, starting at middle linebacker his final three seasons. He is one of just eight three-time All-Americans in OSU history.
“I am thrilled for our program and especially for our current and future Buckeyes who will benefit so much from having James on staff,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said via a press release. “James is a terrific young man with wisdom as a Buckeye and experience as an eight-year NFL veteran. He is going to be a very important part of our program going forward.”
Laurinaitis won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2006 as the nation’s best defensive player. One year later, he won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. Laurinaitis was also a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2007, 2008).
Laurinaitis began his coaching career last year as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame where former teammate Marcus Freeman is the head coach. Laurinaitis worked with the linebackers at Notre Dame, which is also what he’ll be doing with the Buckeyes.
Last year at Ohio State, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles was listed as the linebackers coach, but graduate assistant Koy McFarland did a lot of the lifting. McFarland took a full-time assistant job at Tulsa with departing OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, making the addition of Laurinaitis possible.
Laurinaitis is expected to add some pop to Ohio State’s linebacker recruiting. The Buckeyes haven’t landed an out-of-state linebacker since Cody Simon and Mitchell Melton in 2020.
[James Laurinaitis header photo courtesy of the Ohio State Dept. of Athletics.]