Ohio State Football To Overhaul Defense With Hirings Of Perry Eliano And Tim Walton

Ohio State’s coaching staff changes were continuing on Thursday on the defensive side of the ball.

The program is set to bring in Perry Eliano as safeties coach and Tim Walton as cornerbacks coach, joining newly arrived coordinator Jim Knowles, people familiar with their hirings confirmed to The Dispatch.

Linebackers coach Al Washington and defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs will not be retained in order to create the openings.

The school has yet to announce the moves.

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Eliano, 43, has been the cornerbacks coach at Cincinnati for the past two seasons, where he was credited with shaping the development of decorated cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, both of whom were critical last fall in helping the Bearcats to become the first team from a Group of Five conference to reach the College Football Playoff.

Perry Eliano was the cornerbacks coach the last two seasons at Cincinnati. The Bearcats finished this past year ranked No. 2 in pass defense.
Perry Eliano was the cornerbacks coach the last two seasons at Cincinnati. The Bearcats finished this past year ranked No. 2 in pass defense.

Bryant was the recipient of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, while Gardner was a consensus All-American.

Cincinnati finished second nationally in pass defense, giving up an average of 169 yards per game.

Eliano, a native of Killeen, Texas, also spent a pair of seasons as the defensive coordinator at Bowling Green in 2016 and 2017.

The 50-year-old Walton has been an assistant in the NFL for the last decade, most recently as the cornerbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also was a cornerback for the Buckeyes from 1990-93, bringing him back to his alma mater.

Tim Walton is a former Buckeye and has spent the past decade as an NFL assistant. Most recently, he served as the cornerbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tim Walton is a former Buckeye and has spent the past decade as an NFL assistant. Most recently, he served as the cornerbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who was on the Jaguars' staff with Walton this past fall, gave him plenty of praise.

"He’s great with the players," Ash said. "Lots of energy and a very good motivator. Very good teacher. Lots of NFL experience. Always talked about the Buckeyes and how much he loved his experience there."

Despite being at the NCAA limit of 10 on-field assistant coaches before Thursday’s moves, the Buckeyes had been looking to add at least one position coach for their secondary.

In addition to calling plays for the defense on an interim basis for most of last season, Matt Barnes had coached the defensive backs. But Barnes left in the aftermath of the Rose Bowl to become the defensive coordinator at Memphis.

His departure allowed for Knowles to come aboard on Jan. 2, but it still left them without a secondary coach.

In his first stint on staff under former coach Urban Meyer from 2012-17, Coombs had remarkable success as a cornerbacks coach, recruiting and developing seven first-round NFL draft picks before leaving for the league himself to coach under Mike Vrabel with the Tennessee Titans.

He returned to Ohio State as an assistant in 2020, replacing former defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, who left to become the coach at Boston College, but Coombs was no longer coaching defensive backs in order to focus on his coordinator role.

Coombs was stripped of his defensive play-calling responsibilities after a 35-28 loss to Oregon in Week 2.

During a mid-season press conference, he acknowledged how difficult the demotion had been, but he pledged to not let it affect his attitude.

His players took notice.

"I just want to give a big shout-out to coach Coombs," freshman defensive end Jack Sawyer said before the Rose Bowl. "Obviously, the position he was in wasn't easy, getting all that hate on social media and getting demoted mid-season. It wasn't easy for him.

"He showed us what it was to be a leader and what it is to be a true man in this business, the way he came back to work the next day. You never saw him down, always in a positive mindset, checking how we're doing, and then just busting his ass as hard as he could to coach us. When we saw that, it kind of motivated us because I don't think people really realize how hard a position that was for him."

Washington had been an assistant with the Buckeyes for three seasons, joining Ryan Day’s inaugural staff in 2019 as a linebackers coach.

He made the rare move to go from Michigan to Ohio State, but it was an opportunity for him to return to his native Columbus, where he graduated from Bishop Watterson High School, and his father, Al Washington Sr., had been a linebacker for the Buckeyes.

Last offseason, Washington turned down an offer to be the defensive coordinator at Tennessee, a lucrative role that included a seven-figure salary, to remain at Ohio State.

With his departure, it’s possible that Knowles will coach the linebackers in addition to his coordinator duties.

He was not responsible for a position group as the defensive coordinator for four seasons at Oklahoma State, but he was the linebackers coach in addition to being the coordinator at Duke in his previous stint.

The Buckeyes have also made previously announced changes on the offensive side of the ball with Justin Frye being tapped as the offensive line coach to replace Greg Studrawa and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline being promoted to passing game coordinator.

But the defense was the most pressing issue for the team to address entering 2022.

While they had been the highest-scoring team in the nation last season, they gave up points in bunches.

In the final two games, they surrendered a combined 87 points to Michigan and Utah. it was only the second time in program history and the first time since 1891 that they had allowed 40 or more points in consecutive games.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football to add Cincinnati coach Perry Eliano

Source : https://news.yahoo.com/ohio-state-football-reportedly-set-155153894.html

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