Five things to know about Tim Walton, Ohio State’s new junior/cornerbacks coach
For the third time since becoming Ohio State’s head coach, Ryan Day went into the ranks of the NFL to hire a new minor coach.
In 2019, Day hired Jeff Havley away from the San Francisco 49ers to become Ohio State’s Joint Defense Coordinator and secondary coach. After Havley left to become the head coach for Boston College, Day hired Kerry Combs away from the Tennessee Titans to become Ohio State’s defensive coordinator and staff coach. Now, Day Combs has replaced – having already appointed Jim Knowles as the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator – by hiring Walton away from the Jacksonville Jaguars to become Ohio State’s new junior head coach.
Despite having over a decade coaching Walton at the college level, he brings an impressive resume to Ohio State, with more than 25 years of coaching experience including over a decade coaching NFL defenses. And he certainly knows what it means to be a cornerstone of Ohio, given that he was once himself.
Let’s take a closer look at Walton’s background and why he was an attractive candidate to lead the Buckeyes as part of a defensive coaching staff overhaul.
Ohio State fans who have been asking for more former Buckeyes to join the coaching staff get their wish with Walton. Much like wide reception coach and newly promoted passing game coordinator Brian Hartline, Walton will coach the position he once played at Ohio State.
Walton was an Ohio cornerback from 1990-93, winning the Big Ten when the Buckeyes split the conference title with Wisconsin during his freshman year. He’s been a regular fixture for two years with the Buckeyes and has scored 159 total tackles, 10 interceptions, 11 breakout assists and nine loss pickups over the course of his career.
He became the second member of Ohio State’s current coaching staff who had already played for the Buckeyes, and joined Hartline. He became the third member of the Buckeyes 2022 squad to play in the Big Ten, as co-head coach and offensive lineman Justin Frye was an Indiana offensive lineman.
Decades of defensive training experience
Walton’s first full-time coaching job actually came as an offensive coach, as he was the running coach at Bowling Green from 1996-1998. Since then, however, Walton has been coaching defense – especially a defensive linebacker – for more than two decades.
Walton became the defensive back coach for Bowling Green in 1999, then moved on to coach the defensive back in Memphis (2000-01), Syracuse (2002), LSU (2003) and Miami, where he was the defensive back coach from 2004-06 before becoming promoted to Coordinator Defensive in 2007. Walton returned to Memphis as defensive coordinator for the Tigers in 2008 before beginning his NFL coaching career as a defensive line coach for the Detroit Lions from 2009-12.
He spent a one-year stint as a defensive coordinator at St. Lewis Rams in 2013, then became the New York Giants coach from 2015-2017. He became Jaguars coach in 2019 and has been in that position throughout last season.
He was an assistant in the national championship
Of the four new coaches appointed by Ohio State so far out of the season, Walton is the only one to actually win a national championship. He achieved this within one year at LSU, where he was a member of Nick Saban as the Tigers won the BCS National Championship match. LSU led the nation in full defense that year, and his list of defensive appearances included Corey Webster, who was the first All-American cornerback under Walton’s tutelage.
While Ohio State expects all of its new hires to help the Buckeyes win a national title, Walton can draw from the experience of knowing what it really takes to make it happen, as the only other coach left on the staff who was a National. The tournament’s coaching staff is defensive line coach Larry Johnson, the only player left on the 2014 National Championship staff.
The Miami defense ranked ninth nationally in passing yards allowed per game in 2004 and led the nation in passing yards allowed per game in 2005, his first two seasons with the Hurricanes. Miami ranked seventh in the nation in total yards allowed in 2006. The Hurricanes defense took a step back in his only year as their coordinator, however, when they finished 33rd in overall defense and 52nd in scoring defenses with 26 points allowed per game. .
He coached the Pro Bowl CBs
In addition to coaching several first-team players at the college level — Webster in 2003 and Miami’s Kelly Jennings in 2005 — Walton has also coached several Pro Bowl players at the NFL level.
Dominic Rodgers Cromarty (2016) and Janoris Jenkins (2017) were both Pro Bowlers during his years with the Giants. And while he coached Galen Ramsey only briefly during the Pro Bowl season in 2019, when Ramsey was traded from the Jaguars to the Rams, Ramsey was very complimented by Walton in an ESPN post-trade interview.
“Coach Walton, he’s probably one of the best DB coaches if not the best DB coach of my life,” Ramsey said. “He was really good. Not only was he a good coach, we trained really hard, he made sure we were on our technical terms but he was a good person too.
“He cared about us off the field. They cared about the battles we might have been fighting off the field. He was always there for us man. He meant a lot that he was always trying to understand. A lot of times you encounter situations where people are in power or people are in position, no They even care about trying to understand you as a person, you as a player, anything. But he was really meticulous about everything, to make sure he knows us individually as a player and as a person.”
Galen Ramsay had a close relationship with Tim Walton during his brief stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo: Douglas Devils – USA TODAY Sports)
He’s worked with former Ohio State coaches
Chances are good that Day spoke with his predecessor and former boss about Walton prior to his appointment, as Walton was a member of Urban Mayer’s staff during his brief tenure as head coach of Jaguar last year. While Walton was originally hired by former Jaguar coach Doug Marron, he was retained by Mayer when Mayer became Jaguars coach in 2021.
Walton also worked directly alongside former Ohio State Joint Defense Coordinator and safety coach Chris Ash, who was Jaguar’s safety coach last season. Ashe told The Columbus Dispatch Thursday that Walton was “fantastic with the guys” in Jacksonville.
“Lots of energy and a very good motivator,” Ash said. “Very good teacher. Lots of NFL experience. He always talked about the Buckeyes and how much he liked his experience there.”
Another connection from Walton’s coaching past that may have played a role in his hiring: Cedric Saunders, who played for Walton at Ohio State, was vice president of football operations for the Detroit Lions when Walton worked for the Lions, and Kayden was Saunders’ son. Now a back-to-back rally for the Buckeyes.