Larry Johnson Sr. was given the opportunity to stay at Penn State with the arrival of new coach James Franklin. However, he declined an offer to remain as the school's defensive line coach.
"I want to say that I am very appreciative of all that went into my time at Penn State, all the players I've coached and all of the associations that I have,'' Johnson told PennLive.com.
"But I've thought a lot about this, I've prayed about it and this is what I want to do. I wish Coach Franklin and Penn State the best but it's time for me. It's a very difficult time but I want to thank the fans, the players, and Penn State. I mean that.''
Late Monday night, Sports Illustrated and ESPN reported that Johnson was close to joining Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State as the defensive line coach.
Johnson has been a key recruiter in his time at Penn State, especially in the areas just south of Pennsylvania. That's likely why Meyer moved so quickly to secure his services. With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers into the Big Ten, the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas can now be called "Big Ten Country" without much of a stretch. And Johnson's recruiting cachet will definitely go with him from one State to another.
Johnson had been an assistant at Penn State since 1996 and was the last coach on staff from the Joe Paterno era. After O'Brien's departure to the Houston Texans, Johnson was named the interim coach until Franklin was hired. He interviewed for the head coaching position both before O'Brien was hired after Paterno's dismissal and before Franklin was given the permanent job.
Coincidentally, if he's hired at Ohio State, Johnson would be replacing Mike Vrabel. Vrabel is now a part of O'Brien's staff in Houston.
Both of his sons -- Larry and Tony -- played for Paterno at Penn State. Larry Johnson Jr. was a first-round pick at running back in 2003 for the Kansas City Chiefs. He ran for over 1,700 yards in both 2005 and 2006.
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