Ohio State Football Linebackers Coach Al Washington Not Expected Back As Part Of Defensive Staff Overhaul

NOTE: The departures of Washington and former defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs were i">>confirmed when OSU announced the hires of Tim Walton as secondary coach/cornerbacks coach and Perry Eliano as safeties coach.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — One year ago, Al Washington’s retention to the Ohio State football staff in the face of other job offers was considered a win for coach Ryan Day.

Today, Washington and the Buckeyes are expected to part ways in the midst of a nearly complete overhaul of the defensive coaching staff. Lettermen Row first reported his departure was imminent.

Washington signed a two-year contract extension last March. He is owed his $600,000 base salary for 2022 if he is fired without cause. However, that payment is reduced by whatever amount Washington makes at another job in the coming season.

Day hired Eliano from Cincinnati and former OSU captain Walton from the Jacksonville Jaguars as defensive back coaches. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, whose December hire became official earlier this month, has a background coaching linebackers.

Coombs also will not return, and secondary coach Matt Barnes has left to become defensive coordinator at Memphis. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is expected to be the only defensive holdover on the staff.

Day hired Washington for his first staff prior to the 2019 season. While he came from Michigan, Washington was a Columbus native whose father, Al Sr., played at Ohio State.

Tennessee tried to hire Washington as defensive coordinator a year ago around this time and reportedly offered him more than $1 million annually. Washington ultimately opted to remain at Ohio State and signed a two-year contract extension worth $600,000 per year.

Ohio State’s linebackers were arguably the best unit on a 2020 defense that helped reach the national championship game. However, that unit was arguably the defense’s most problematic this past season.

Seniors Dallas Gant and K’Vaughan Pope left the team mid-season, with Pope doing so publicly with a sideline tantrum during the Akron game and a tweeted expletive from the locker room. Ohio State’s run defense never completely solved season-long issues and was exploited in losses to both Oregon and Michigan.

Converted running back Steele Chambers, who did not shift to linebacker until preseason camp, became a starter by season’s end. Sophomores Cody Simon, who played through a shoulder injury, and Tommy Eichenberg showed occasional promise.

Washington also was responsible for at least two of the most anticipated prospects in OSU’s 2022 signing class: C.J. Hicks and Gabe Powers.

Someone else, though, will oversee their development as Buckeyes.

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