Overview of Ohio State football staff performance reviews from 2019-20

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson walks back to the team bus following Media Day for the Fiesta Bowl at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Ohio State on Friday released performance reviews of its football coaching staff from the 2019-20 academic year.

In a two-page letter, athletic director Gene Smith went over coach Ryan Day’s accomplishments from his first season at the helm of the program, writing that he exceeded expectations and saw “extraordinary” success.

But what about Day’s assistants? The notes and highlights from their evaluations, including comments from Day, are also below. The documents were obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request.

No performance reviews were conducted for former defensive co-coordinator Jeff Hafley or quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich after they left the program following the 2019 season.

The evaluations were completed in June 2020 for the staff at that time.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson

>> Day listed positives such as buying into culture, leadership, unit strength, enhancement of offensive line and tight end, confidence, experience/credibility, offensive staff continuity and excellent resource to head coach.

>> Areas to work on included recruiting production, continue to enhance offense and turn offense staff from very good to elite.

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>> Assessing the offense’s productivity, Wilson gave it a 4 (5 is the highest), writing, “balance, development, strong/elite unit.” Ohio State ranked third in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2019 with an average of 46.9 points per game.

>> Wilson, who also coaches tight ends, gave himself a 4 for his position group’s academic performance and noted it was the best academic unit on the team.   

>> In his final comments, Wilson wrote, “Good year, continue to grow and lead, get a championship.”

Defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs

>> The evaluation of Coombs, who was hired in January 2020, spanned only the following five months. He did not give himself a grade for the defense’s productivity in 2019 or his players’ on-field performance as a result.

>> Coombs did grade himself on players’ off-field productivity, including a 5 for academics and 4 for social and campus behavior. He also coached defensive backs in 2020, though is only coordinating the defense this year.

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>> Day registered 10 positives for Coombs, more than any other on-field assistant. They included living Ohio State culture, loyalty, defensive knowledge, NFL experience, teaching methods, defensive staff accountability, personality to unit room and staff, work ethic, special teams knowledge and recruiting production. The Buckeyes picked up commitments from four defensive back signees over March, April and May of 2020.

>> Three areas to work on for Coombs included development of young players, top defense in country and unit strength.  The Buckeyes didn’t reach the top level in the fall, giving up an average of 25.8 points during a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.  

Quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis

>> One of the listed areas to work on for Dennis was recruiting the best quarterback in the country, and he ultimately checked that box. In November, the Buckeyes got a verbal commitment from Quinn Ewers, the top-ranked passer in the 2022 class who is from Southlake Carroll High School in Texas.

>> Other growth areas listed were unit strength, recruiting production, creativity in recruiting and elite teaching on/off field.

>> Positives included buying into culture, loyalty, knowledge of offense, relationship with unit and communication. Dennis, the son-in-law of former coach Urban Meyer, joined the program as an intern in 2015 and later became a graduate assistant and quality control coach before his promotion to quarterbacks coach. 

>> Like Coombs, Dennis did not grade himself on his players’ on-field productivity. He was hired after the 2019 season to replace Yurcich.

>> Under goals, Dennis wrote, “continue to develop as a coach, and motivate the QBs on and off the field.”

Running backs coach Tony Alford

>> Running back recruiting was listed as the top area to work on for Alford after the Buckeyes missed out on their top targets in the 2020 cycle, a group that included five-star Bijan Robinson, who would sign with Texas. But in 2021, he helped bring in TreVeyon Henderson, the nation's top-ranked running back prospect who was the first five-star at the position to sign with Ohio State since Chris "Beanie" Wells in 2006.

>> The production of running backs was the No. 1 positive for Alford after J.K. Dobbins became the first 2,000-yard rusher in school history in 2019. Other positives were unit strength, developing unit, preaching OSU culture, loyalty, staff chemistry and father figure to unit.

>> Alford listed three goals that involved helping the program in any area deemed necessary by Day, inspire and motivate players and bring positive value to the staff and program.

Wide receivers coach Brian Hartline

>> Hartline listed one of his goals as "removing all doubt" that Ohio State is the so-called Wide Receiver U.

>> Other goals were winning the rivalry game against Michigan, Big Ten championship and national championship and seeing his position group obtained a 3.0 or higher grade-point average. It was the only position group with a GPA below 3.0.

>> Positives for Hartline were unit production, family involvement, recruiting (area/position), NFL experience, loyalty, highly motivated/work ethic, energy and creativity.

>> Areas to work on included equate meeting room, enhancement of offense, development of young players, academic production and social accountability of unit.

Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa

>> As the Buckeyes’ offensive line helped pave the way for Dobbins to surpass 2,000 rushing yards in 2019, Studrawa gave himself a 5 for the group’s productivity. “Really came together as a unit!" he wrote.

>> The Buckeyes got a commitment from class of 2021 five-star offensive lineman Donovan Jackson in January 2020, and Studrawa wrote he was doing well on the recruiting trail. “Must maintain momentum!” he added. But days before the evaluation was completed, the Buckeyes also lost out on top tackle target J.C. Latham, who committed to Alabama.

>> Day put down recruiting creativity as something for him to work on.

>> Positives for Studrawa were passion in recruiting, unit accountability, caring for players, family involvement, offensive knowledge, recruiting relationship with recruits/families and unit pride.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson

>> Johnson gave himself a 5 for his players' on-field production following a season in which defensive end Chase Young was a Heisman Trophy finalist and the Buckeyes led the FBS with 54 sacks. 

>> Day listed eight positives for Johnson, including recruiting, player development, unit performance, loyalty, resource for head coach, unit strength, expertise at your trade and motivation of team.

>> Two areas to work on were continued recruiting of defensive lineman and enhancement of defensive game planning.

Linebackers coach Al Washington

>> Washington wrote one of his goals was to develop the linebackers "mentally, physically, technically to the absolute best of their abilities" and "positively impact their lives off the field."

>> His positives were defensive knowledge, staff cohesion, linebacker culture, connection to players, Ohio relationships, demanding accountability and energy. While Washington had not coached in Ohio until 2019 and was previously on staff at Michigan, he is from Columbus and attended Bishop Watterson High School.

>> Unit productivity, recruiting production, own special teams and development of young players were listed as four areas to work on for Washington.

Defensive co-coordinator Greg Mattison

>> Maintain top defense in the country was listed as one of the three things to work on for Mattison after he and Hafley helped the Buckeyes finish 2019 atop the FBS in total defense, but they ultimately ended up 59th in the category in 2020.

>> The positives listed by Day were defensive expertise, staff impact, recruiting knowledge/relationships, loyalty, NFL coaching experience and career success.

Special teams coach Matt Barnes

>> Barnes, who also assisted with the safeties in previous years, wrote down six goals for himself: all players in good academic standing, lead Big Ten in all special teams states, leading Big Ten in total defense, contribute to No. 1-ranked recruiting class, win Big Ten and win national championship.

>> He gave himself a 4 for special teams’ productivity during the 2019 season.