Former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis to join Freeman's Notre Dame coaching staff

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Former Ohio State All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis will join former Buckeye teammate Marcus Freeman's staff at Notre Dame.

Laurinaitis announced the move Monday morning on his radio show on 97.1 The Fan.

"I am going up to South Bend with Marcus," Laurinaitis said on the show.

Laurinaitis said he had been "poking around" entering coaching the past couple of years, but that a couple of opportunities locally didn't pan out.

"With your best friend getting the head coaching job, it's a pretty unique situation and a pretty awesome opportunity to go up there and get started in the profession," he said.

Notre Dame hired Freeman as head coach following the departure of Brian Kelly to LSU. Freeman served as defensive coordinator this year after coaching under Luke Fickell at Cincinnati.

(osu_freeman_gordon_CLH)  OSU linebackers Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis play video games at Laurinaitis' apartment, Wednesday, April 15, 2009.

Laurinaitis did not specify what his role at Notre Dame would be. ESPN reported that it would likely be in a support role.

He said Fickell and Freeman were the two coaches he would consider working for. With Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff, Laurinaitis said he didn't contact Fickell. He visited Freeman and the job came together quickly, he said.

"It was really just the fact that that we've been best friends since freshman year of college, and so there's a level of trust there," Laurinaitis said.

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Brandon Gaudin (left) and James Laurinaitis talk in Ohio Stadium prior to the Ohio State versus Akron football game. They are on the Big Ten Network (BTN) crew.

Laurinaitis said that this will be his final week of doing the radio show before starting at Notre Dame on Jan. 10. Ohio State and Notre Dame will play in the 2022 season opener in Columbus.

Laurinaitis, 35, was a three-time All-American at Ohio State, where he played from 2005-2008. He won the Nagurski Award given to the top defensive player nationally and the Butkus Award for best linebacker. The St. Louis Rams drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. He played seven seasons with the Rams before finishing his career with New Orleans in 2016. Laurinaitis had 869 career tackles.

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at brabinowitz@dispatch.com or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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