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Report: Larry Johnson Declines Offer To Stay At Penn State, Close to Deal with Ohio State

Penn State football’s long-time defensive line coach Larry Johnson has decided to move on from Penn State, according to a report from PennLive’s Bob Flounders. Johnson was the last remaining member of Joe Paterno’s coaching staff, but after not receiving serious consideration for the head coaching position following Bill O’Brien’s departure, he will explore other coaching opportunities outside of Penn State.

The news was first reported this afternoon by alumnae Macy Golder, who was also the first to report the Ron Vanderlinden resignation.

And, as if that doesn’t sting enough, Sports Illustrated is reporting that Johnson is close to joining Ohio State’s coaching staff with Urban Meyer. Johnson would replace Mike Vrabel, who left to coach the Texans under Bill O’Brien. There’s definitely a certain irony in that fact. Johnson to Ohio State would almost certainly mean the end of 4-star DT Thomas Holley’s commitment to Penn State.

Johnson was named the interim head coach of the Nittany Lions after O’Brien bolted to coach the Houston Texans. Athletic Director Dave Joyner said that Johnson would receive consideration for the job if he was interested, but it seemed that Miami’s Al Golden and eventual hire James Franklin were the only two candidates that stood a chance throughout the search. Johnson was eventually interviewed for the position.

Flounders says that Johnson was offered the same position he held last year, but he declined. It was reported earlier today that Vanderbilt’s Sean Spencer was hired to replace him at the position. Johnson coached at Penn State for 19 years and was an instrumental part of the football team’s recruiting efforts throughout the years. He was promoted to defensive line coach 15 seasons ago by Paterno and held that position for the remainder of his time in Happy Valley.

Johnson landed big commitments throughout his tenure on the recruiting front. In recent years, he brought in Garry Gilliam, Jordan Hill, Ty Howle, Stephon Morris, Devon Smith, Malcolm Willis, Zach Zwinak, Donovan Smith, and Adam Breneman. Four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley is arguably the biggest commit that Penn State has in the 2014 class, but it’s certainly possible that he would reconsider his commitment with his recruiter leaving the team.

We wish Coach Johnson well in his future endeavors as a football coach and thank him for everything that he did for the Penn State football program over the last two decades.

UPDATE: Sports Illustrated is now reporting that Johnson has accepted the Ohio State job. In short, this is not good. Johnson was well known as our best recruiter — one of the best on the east coast, in fact — for  two decades. He knows Pennsylvania well and I’m not looking forward to the inevitable recruiting battles with Penn State.

We wish Johnson nothing but the best in his personal life and his status as a great Penn Stater will stay with him for the rest of his life — but we hope he loses every game for the Scarlet and Gray

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.


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