Last week it was announced that former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett would be joining the coaching staff of the Detroit Lions as an offensive assistant. In the first few months of 2022, Barrett was preparing to play quarterback for the Edmonton Elks after the CFL squad signed him to a contract in late January. Barrett suffered an achilles injury in March, which led to the quarterback announcing his retirement as a player.
While Barrett didn’t appear in an NFL game in his three seasons in the league, expect the former Buckeye to make more of an impact as a coach. Barrett already has some familiarity with head coach Dan Campbell after the two were with the New Orleans Saints together. Campbell has built a staff that is heavy on former NFL players, which includes Aaron Glenn, Duce Staley, Mark Brunell, and others.
There are numerous former Ohio State players coaching in both college football and the NFL. Mike Vrabel is the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, Luke Fickell heads the Cincinnati Bearcats football program, Brian Hartline is the wide receivers coach at Ohio State, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today we are looking at which former Buckeyes you would most like to see try their hand at coaching next.
Today’s question: Which former Buckeye would you most like to see join the coaching ranks next?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Ryan Shazier
If there’s anyone who deserves to be a coach in football, it is Ryan Shazier. The former Ohio State linebacker saw his playing career cut short after he suffered a scary spinal injury during a Monday Night Football game against Cincinnati in 2017. You could tell how much the game means to Shazier when he spoke about returning to the football field despite suffering such a serious injury.
Even though he wasn’t cleared to return the field, the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to keep Shazier involved with the team, since he was such a beloved teammate. Shazier was involved in the coaching and scouting departments of the Steelers, but he saw his role diminished when COVID-19 changed how the world operated. Since then, Shazier has announced the creation of a trucking company.
It would be exciting to see what Shazier would be able to do in a full-time assistant coaching role. Much like how Brian Hartline has worked his way up the coaching ranks as an assistant, imagine if Ryan Shazier returned to Ohio State to work under Jim Knowles on the defensive coaching staff. There is still plenty of passion left in Shazier for the game of football, and it would be great to see him pass that, as well as his knowledge of football on to some of the best prospects in college football. While Shazier would undoubtedly be successful at the professional level as an assistant, it feels like he would be most effective at the college level.
Meredith’s answer: Malcolm Jenkins
JT Barrett is another shining example of former Ohio State players starting their coaching careers. It’s been such a joy to see Brian Hartline and Marcus Freeman blossom early in their coaching careers and have successes on the sidelines that have begun to dwarf their on-field play. Still, it’s been somewhat strange to see this next generation of younger coaches whom many of us remember as players. Perhaps that’s just a sign I’m getting old.
My pick for this week happens to be a player from the same 2009 NFL Draft class as Hartline and Freeman, and a player whose personality has already extended beyond his playing career into such admirable human-centered activism that coaching seems like such a perfect fit. That person, of course, is Malcolm Jenkins.
It’s hard to not love Jenkins, a two-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first team All-Big Ten selection. His on-field play is enough to turn heads, but his impact on the field goes beyond his athleticism. Throughout his career, he’s been widely credited as a leader on the defense.
Now that Jenkins is retired from the NFL as of this spring, the world seems to be his oyster. He has already found success as an entrepreneur selling high-end bow ties. On a larger scale, he has used his platform to raise awareness for social causes, and has a foundation to support youth in underserved communities. It seems like the role Jenkins was made to do.
That being said, as a former professional athlete, Jenkins understands as well as anyone the impact coaches can have as positive role models. Perhaps being a coach is the next step in activating the impact he’s been working for throughout his NFL career.