position Assistant Head Coach for Offense / Running Backs Coach
Alma Mater Colorado State, 1992
Tony Alford, who has coached, recruited and developed six 1,000-yard running backs during his tenure at Ohio State, is in his ninth season as coach at Ohio State and his 31st season coaching overall. He coaches the running backs while also serving as the assistant head coach for offense.
Alford’s running backs have been nothing short of incredibly productive, tough and reliable and include 1,000-yard rushers Ezekiel Elliott (2015), Mike Weber (2016), J.K. Dobbins (2017, 2018 and 2019) and TreVeyon Henderson (2021).
In 2021, Alford mentored Henderson as he became just the fourth true freshman in program history to surpass 1,000 yards rushing. His total of 1,248 yards is second only to another star pupil – J.K. Dobbins – among true freshmen in a single season. Ohio State led the Big Ten and was third nationally in yards per carry (5.54).
Alford’s running backs have taken home major awards, too. Elliott won Big Ten Conference offensive player of the year and Chicago Tribune Silver Football award honors in 2015 when he barreled through an 1,821-yard season and scored 23 touchdowns; Weber was the league’s freshman of the year in 2016; and Dobbins was a first-team All-American and the Earle Campbell/Tyler Rose award winner in 2019 when he made history by becoming the first Buckeye to top 2,000 yards in a season with 2,003 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns.
Four of Alford’s five starting running backs during his tenure in Columbus have gone on to be drafted: Elliott (No. 4 overall to Dallas in 2016), Weber (No. 218 overall to Dallas in 2019), Dobbins (No. 55 overall in 2020) and Sermon (No. 88 overall in 2021).
Elliott went on to become the offensive rookie of the year in the NFL in 2016. Dobbins merely was the first running back in Ohio State history to surpass 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman, sophomore and junior. He set the school record for freshmen running backs with 1,403 yards in 2017 and he closed his career as one of just 29 running backs in NCAA history with a 2,000-yard season (a school-record 2,003 in 2019) while amassing 4,459 yards, second at Ohio State only to Archie Griffin’s 5,589 yards.
The eight-game, pandemic shortened 2020 season did see Trey Sermon break Eddie George’s 26-year-old school record (314 yards vs. Illinois in 1995) with with 331 yards in the Big Ten championship game vs. Northwestern.
Alford, a 2015 Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter, a finalist for 247Sports’ 2011 national recruiter of the year and also one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation that year by Rivals.com, was born in Akron and lived in Ohio for over 16 years before moving to Colorado Springs as a high school senior. His father, Robert, was a three-year letterman in football at Kent State and coached high school football in Ohio for 10 years. Thus, most of Tony’s years in coaching has been in the Midwest and central United States, including his first two collegiate jobs at Mount Union, in 1995, and at Kent State the following season.
In 1997 Alford joined Dan McCarney’s staff at Iowa State as running backs coach and spent the next four seasons in Ames developing running backs and helping the Cyclones to be one of only three Division I schools to produce a 1,000-yard rusher for six consecutive seasons between 1995-2001. The Cyclones improved their national rushing from rankings of 103rd to 17th in Alford’s four years and won their first-ever bowl game to cap a 9-3 season in 2000.
Following one season – 2001 – as running backs coach at Washington under Rick Neuheisel, Alford returned to Ames as McCarney’s assistant head coach and running backs coach, a position he held for the next five seasons. During this tenure with the Cyclones, Alford guided Stevie Hicks to a 1,000-yard rushing season, the fifth running back to do so under Alford’s tutelage.
When McCarney was let go following the 2006 season, Alford moved on to the University of Louisville where he spent two years as running backs coach under Steve Kragthorpe. In 2008, Cardinal running back Victor Anderson topped 1,000-yards rushing and was named the BIG EAST Conference rookie of the year and a freshman All-American.
In 2009 Alford joined Charlie Weiss’ staff at Notre Dame as running backs coach and the next season he was the only coach retained by new Irish coach Brian Kelly. Alford worked with Notre Dame’s wide receivers his first two seasons under Kelly and helped Michael Floyd to consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and a subsequent first-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In 2012 Alford returned to coaching running backs with the added responsibility of slot receivers and recruiting coordinator. In 2014 he was running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Six different Irish running backs topped 500 yards during a season in Alford’s four years as RBs coach, including four with more than 700 yards.
Alford was a 1,000-yard rusher himself and a Doak Walker Award nominee while at Colorado State from 1987-90. He gained 1,035 yards in 1989 as a junior under first-year Rams coach Earle Bruce. He had an 80-yard run that year vs. Hawai’i and also set the conference record with 310 yards vs. Utah, a school mark that stood for 24 years. Alford was named first-team all-Western Athletic Conference that season and honorable mention All-America by USA Today. During Alford’s senior season Colorado State went 9-4 and to its first bowl game in 42 years.
A 1992 graduate of Colorado State with a degree in exercise and sport science, Alford went on to play for the NFL’s Denver Broncos in preseason action and the Birmingham Fire of the World League prior to entering the coaching profession.
Alford and his wife, Trina, have three sons: Rylan, Kyler and Braydon.
Tony Alford Quick Facts
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
High School: Doherty (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Alma Mater: Colorado State, 1992
Year in Coaching: 31st (Ninth year at Ohio State)
Children: Sons Rylan, Kyler and Braydon
Tony Alford Coaching Experience
|2015-pres.||Assistant Head Coach for Offense/RBs||Ohio State|
|2014||Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator||Notre Dame|
|2012-13||Running Backs/Slot WRs/Rec. Coordinator||Notre Dame|
|2010-11||Wide Receivers||Notre Dame|
|2009||Running Backs||Notre Dame|
|2002-06||Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs||Iowa State|
|1997-2000||Running Backs||Iowa State|
|1996||Running Backs||Kent State|
|1995||Running Backs||Mount Union|
|1994||Assistant Coach||Lake Wales (Fla.) High School|
|1993||Assistant Coach||Fort Collins (Colo.) High School|