Buckeyes Tab Withers, Vrabel To Stay

Ohio State's football staff keeps taking shape as Urban Meyer has tabbed former North Carolina interim head coach Everett Withers for his staff and will also keep former OSU star Mike Vrabel on as an assistant. Withers has spent more than two decades as a defensive coach at both the college and NFL levels.

Two more pieces of the Ohio State staff puzzle have been put together as new head coach Urban Meyer has added Everett Withers to his staff and will also keep Mike Vrabel as an assistant coach.

Withers will work as the team's assistant head coach as well as co-defensive coordinator to Luke Fickell.

"Everett is extremely well respected across the country," Meyer said. "I've known about him for a number of years and followed his progress as a college and NFL assistant coach. He will be a great fit for this staff and I think he and Luke are going to work well together as the co-coordinators of our defense."

Vrabel worked with the team's linebackers this year after concluding a 14-year NFL career that included three Super Bowl rings with New England. The former OSU defensive lineman is among the most decorated players in school history and its career sacks leader.

"I had heard such great things about Mike Vrabel as a player, but the key thing for me was I wanted to talk football with him," Meyer said. "I wanted to see him recruit, and I wanted to meet his family. I have since spent a lot of time with him, and he has a wonderful family.

"I also spoke to a number of people I know well, who also know Mike very well, including Bill Belichick. Coach Belichick and I had a really good discussion about Mike. While Mike is young, we both agreed that the unique experiences he has had as a player, coupled with the things he has already accomplished as a coach and recruiter for Ohio State, has prepared Mike for this opportunity. I am very pleased he will be on the staff."

Ohio State's defensive staff now includes Withers, Fickell, Vrabel and Taver Johnson, who was the team's cornerbacks coach the past four years.

Withers' hiring officially seems to end the OSU career of longtime line coach and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, who coached top-six defenses in six of his seven years in charge of the Silver Bullets, while former safeties coach Paul Haynes has moved on to become the DC at Arkansas.

Six members of Meyer's staff have been chosen, with Stan Drayton staying to coach running backs and Iowa State assistant Tom Herman tabbed as the coordinator and quarterbacks coach on the offensive side.

Withers spent the 2011 season as the interim head coach at North Carolina after the school fired Butch Davis just days before fall camp.

"We believe he has the leadership qualities to help our student-athletes deal with the challenges ahead," UNC AD Dick Baddour said at the time. "We are fortunate to have someone with his credentials and background. He is ready for this position."

The Tar Heels went 7-5 this year after starting 5-1 and will play Missouri in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Dec. 26, a game in which Withers will still coach the team before coming to Columbus.

"I am excited, and I couldn't be more excited to be on coach Urban Meyer's staff at The Ohio State University," Withers said. "Ohio State is obviously one of the storied programs in college athletics. Having an opportunity to work at that university, and as part of Coach Meyer's staff, is something that you just can't pass up."

Larry Fedora, the former coach at Southern Miss, is taking over as the full-time coach for North Carolina. Withers did interview for the full-time job, and UNC lineman James Hurst told the Raleigh News Observer after Fedora's hiring that the team would miss Withers.

"Everyone wanted Coach Everett to retain the job because it's familiar and we know that territory if you will," Hurst said. "It's difficult to establish new relationships, but it's part of the job that comes with it."

Before taking over as Carolina's interim coach, Withers, 48, spent three seasons as UNC's defensive coordinator and secondary coach under Davis. He appeared to favor a 4-3 over defense in his time with the Tar Heels.

The 2010 Tar Heels were 30th in the country in defense despite missing a number of players to suspension and injury, and five of his players were taken in the NFL draft after the season.

In 2009, Withers oversaw a defense that finished sixth in the nation in yardage allowed, 10th in rush defense, 13th in scoring defense and 14th in pass defense. Six UNC defensive players were named all-conference that season.

The year before, North Carolina was eighth in the country with 20 interceptions, and the three UNC defenses Withers oversaw averaged 19.7 interceptions per year.

Withers does have some Big Ten experience as he was the defensive coordinator on Tim Brewster's first staff at Minnesota in 2007.

A native of Charlotte, N.C., and a 1985 graduate of Appalachian State, Withers has NFL experience as he was the Tennessee Titans' DBs coach from 2001-06 and also was a quality control assistant with the New Orleans Saints in 1994.

He has also coached collegiately at Texas, Louisville, Southern Mississippi, Tulane and Austin Peay.

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