2023 Ohio State spring football Tim Walton

What Makes Tim Walton ‘The Best Secondary Coach In America?’

A little over two years ago when Ohio State head coach Ryan Day hired Tim Walton as the Buckeyes’ secondary coach, there was almost a sense of ‘what took so long?’

Not because it took Day so long to hire him but rather because Walton — a former Buckeye cornerback from 1989-1993 — has been in the coaching game since 1995.

Ohio State was his 11th stop, and it followed stints at LSU, Miami, and four NFL jobs in the span of a decade.

But as it turns out, Walton has been worth the wait, both on the field and off of it.

In his second year at Ohio State, Walton helped produce the best pass defense in college football. The Buckeyes led the nation in yards passing allowed per game (145.9), yards per attempt (5.0), and were second in pass efficiency defense (99.22).

The Buckeye players have sworn by the impact that “OG Walt” has had on them, which has definitely not been lost on the guy who hired him.

“First off, it’s his personality and his makeup, his character,” Ryan Day said. “I can’t say enough great things about Tim Walton. You know, his background of developing secondary players in the NFL speaks for itself. And the players that he’s worked with, and the testimony when you talk to the players, they speak glowingly of what he’s done to help them.”

It took nearly 30 years for Tim Walton to go from his first coaching job — a graduate assistant gig at Bowling Green in 1995 — to his alma mater. It was a long road taken, but one that eventually ended up right where it was supposed to be.

With the hire two years ago, Walton became the second former Buckeye on the coaching staff, joining receivers coach Brian Hartline. Hartline’s path to coaching at Ohio State was a straight line — it’s the only place he’s ever coached, but Day is starting to see the same kind of impact in the secondary that Hartline has brought to the receivers room.

Next month, receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. will become the fourth first-round NFL draft pick that Hartline has coached at Ohio State — and seventh receiver drafted overall in Hartline’s six years as OSU’s receivers coach.

In the secondary, however, the Buckeyes haven’t had a defensive back selected in the top four rounds of an NFL draft since cornerback Jeff Okudah went third over all in 2020. That capped a seven-year run of having at least one defensive back selected in the top four rounds — including eight in the first round.

Day obviously wants to get the secondary back to where it used to be, and so does Walton.

“He’s a Buckeye and he wanted to help Ohio State win a championship. That was a big part of it,” Day said of what he saw in Walton that made him want to hire him two years ago. “But then when you get around him, the more you just realize he’s talented and he’s good in a lot of areas. And when you’re evaluating coaches, the first thing is okay, ‘How are they on the field as a technician? How are they schematically? How are they with relating to players? How are they in recruiting?’ Tim does a lot of those things, and so our guys have embraced his mentality.”

How is that manifested on the field?

“I think our secondary is super competitive,” Day said. “I think they want to compete in everything that they’re doing. Watch them go through drills, I mean they’re going at it with each other, and I think that really reflects Tim’s mentality.”

Walton was also instrumental in the Buckeyes landing Alabama safety Caleb Downs out of the transfer portal. The cornerback class he signed in 2024 is considered one of the best in the nation, and OSU already has the top two cornerbacks in 2025 committed.

The present and the future both seem incredibly bright for the Ohio State secondary. Only one starter departs from last year’s team, and Downs was brought in to fill that void. And recruiting hasn’t been this good in the secondary in nearly a decade.

And Day gives a lot of that credit to “OG Walt.”

“I think you can see we have an opportunity to have a really excellent secondary this year and a big part of that is what Tim is doing,” Day said. “And then you’re seeing the recruiting that he’s doing. So I think all those things add up to Tim being the best secondary coach in America.”

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