COLUMBUS, Ohio – James Laurinaitis, one of the most decorated linebackers in Ohio State history during a four year – 2005-08 – career as a Buckeye, is returning to his alma mater as a member of the coaching staff. Head coach Ryan Day announced the news today that Laurinaitis, a graduate assistant at Notre Dame this past season, will join his staff as a graduate assistant coach who will work with the team’s linebackers.
“I am thrilled for our program and especially for our current and future Buckeyes who will benefit so much from having James on staff,” Day said. “James is a terrific young man with wisdom as a Buckeye and experience as an eight-year NFL veteran. He is going to be a very important part of our program going forward.”
Laurinaitis, a two-time team captain, is one of only eight three-time All-Americans in Ohio State history, and he is the most recent. He played on four Big Ten championship teams at Ohio State, twice helped the team to the BCS national championship game and went 4-0 in games against Michigan.
In addition to his All-American accolades, Laurinaitis was honored with four major national awards. He won the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation’s outstanding defensive player as a sophomore; he took home the Butkus Award as America’s top linebacker as a junior; and he became Ohio State’s first-ever winner of both the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award as a senior.
Ohio State’s leading tackler as a sophomore, junior and senior and the Big Ten Conference defensive player of the year in both 2007 and 2008, Laurinaitis finished his career with 375 total tackles, seventh-best in school history. He starred on a defensive unit that led the nation in total defense in 2007 and never ranked lower than 15th nationally throughout his career.
Drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, Laurinaitis went on to become the Rams’ all-time leading tackler with 852 total tackles in his seven-year career with the organization. He played his final NFL season, in 2016, with the New Orleans Saints.
Laurinaitis, who graduated from Ohio State in 2009 with his degree in communications, and his wife, Shelly, also an Ohio State graduate, have three young daughters.