Johnson has spent the past 18 years on staff at Penn State, working as the team's defensive line coach for the past 14 seasons under both Joe Paterno and Bill O'Brien. Thought to be one of the best recruiters on the Nittany Lions staff – and even in the nation by some – Johnson was not going to be on the staff of James Franklin at Penn State.
Johnson was recently named interim coach at Penn State after O'Brien's departure and threw his hat in the ring for the full-time job.
"Why not Larry Johnson?" he told reporters. "I've been here 18 years. I know the lay of the land very well."
He is a particularly adept recruiter on the East Coast, which makes sense given his credentials. Johnson was born in Williamston, N.C., before playing college ball at Elizabeth City State in North Carolina. Johnson later became a high school coach in Maryland, winning a number of state titles.
Johnson developed seven first-team All-Americans and six Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year or Defensive Lineman of the Year honorees since 1999 at Penn State. Johnson also has coached 15 first-team All-Big Ten performers with the Nittany Lions, a list that includes Courtney Brown, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft.
His son, also named Larry, starred at running back at Penn State – topping the 2,000-yard mark in 2002 – before becoming a star in the NFL with Kansas City.
The Buckeyes have been looking for two defensive coaches after line coach Mike Vrabel joined Bill O'Brien in Houston with the NFL's Texans and safeties coach/co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers took the head coaching job at James Madison.