Vrabel Named Ohio State's New LB Coach

The Ohio State football coaching staff is finally set for the 2011 season after former Buckeye defensive end standout Mike Vrabel was announced as the team's new linebackers coach. Vrabel announced his retirement from the NFL and his new job Monday morning at a press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

One of the worst kept secrets surrounding the Ohio State football team in recent weeks became official Monday morning when former Buckeye Mike Vrabel was hired as the team's new linebackers coach.

The 14-year National Football League veteran both announced his retirement from the sport and introduced himself to the media as the newest member of Luke Fickell's coaching staff at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

"I do want to thank my wife and my children for standing behind me for a lot of years in the NFL," said Vrabel, who played for Pittsburgh, New England and Kansas City after ending his collegiate career at OSU from 1993-96. "I had the opportunity to play for a lot of great teams and a lot of great organizations. Hopefully I can take what I learned from those teams and those organizations and apply it to what we're trying to do here."

Vrabel won three Super Bowls with the Patriots in 2001, 2003 and 2004. He was an All-Pro in 2007 and was named to the Pro Bowl that same year. The former OSU defensive lineman ended his career after helping lead a young Kansas City squad to an AFC West title during the 2010 season.

"I'm proud of my career, but I'm more excited now for this opportunity," Vrabel said. "Heading into a new camp and coaching the guys that I've been fortunate enough to meet over the last couple of days in the linebacker room. I'm more excited to coach them and help them become great players and great student athletes."

Vrabel was one of the former Ohio State football players in attendance when Fickell was officially introduced as the new head football coach in June. At that time, Vrabel said he wanted to play one more year in the NFL before retiring. It did not take much convincing to get Vrabel to change his mind, however.

Vrabel said it was a combination of three things that made now the right time to join the OSU coaching staff: the end of his NFL career, the fact that his good friend Fickell was the new head coach and the likely end of the NFL labor dispute. Vrabel was a member of the NFL Players Association Executive Committee.

"Those three things meeting up formed a pretty good opportunity to come here," Vrabel said.

Vrabel started alongside Fickell when both were standout defensive linemen at Ohio State. Vrabel was a stalwart on the end and earned two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, earning the honor in 1995 and 1996. He become the first to win the award consecutively and also earned back-to-back All-America honors during those same years.

Vrabel twice set the Ohio State single-season record for sacks and tackles for loss and still holds the school record for career sacks (36) and single-season and career TFLs (26 in 1995 and 66).

Vrabel has no coaching experience but said that his time with the Chiefs helped him get ready for his new job.

"I got plenty of practice," Vrabel said. "That's a young football team. It was a great role to be able to go out there and be able to play and not only help them on the field but help guys in the locker room, help guys in the film room. … I think that's probably helped me the most, being able to be out there with those guys."

Fickell and Vrabel stayed close after their paths took them in separate directions following their collegiate careers. Fickell, who hosted Vrabel during his official visit to Ohio State as a high school senior, said he was not surprised Vrabel would eventually come back to his alma mater.

"I was the guy that recruited him and since the day I met him, he would always tell me, ‘I'm going to be a coach,' " Fickell said. "His father was coach. He was a coach's son. He would always say, ‘I'm going to be a coach someday,' and when he was in the NFL he would say, ‘I'm going to come back and be a coach at Ohio State.' "

Now that Vrabel's NFL dream has ended, his dream to be a coach at Ohio State has begun.

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