COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tony Alford, who has coached, recruited and developed six 1,000-yard running backs in his seven-year tenure at Ohio State, will take on the added role of the team’s run game coordinator, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day announced today. Alford will continue to coach the running backs while also serving as the assistant head coach for offense.
“Tony has continually mentored and produced tough, reliable and productive running backs for the Buckeyes,” Day said. “He has a terrific understanding of how to get his student-athletes to perform at such a high rate of competitiveness, and I’m really pleased to promote him to run game coordinator.”
Alford’s six 1,000-yard rushers include Ezekiel Elliott (2015), Mike Weber (2016), J.K. Dobbins (2017, 2018 and 2019) and TreVeyon Henderson (2021). The only season Ohio State didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher was the pandemic-shortened 2020 season in which Trey Sermon rushed for 636 yards in three games leading up to the CFP National Championship Game.
This past season, 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 Alford’s other 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. In 2015, Elliott was the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year and the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. A year later, Weber garnered Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. In 2019, following a season in which Dobbins became the first player in school history to reach 2,000 rushing yards, he was a first-team All-American and the Earle Campbell/Tyler Rose award winner.
Each of Alford’s 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).
Alford came to Ohio State in 2015 following a six-year stay at Notre Dame where he worked under two head coaches (Charlie Weiss and Brian Kelly). Under Kelly, he coached wide receivers in 2010 and 2011 before returning to running backs from 2012-14. He’s also made coaching stops at Louisville (2006-08), Iowa State (2002-06 and 1997-2000), Washington (2001), Kent State (1996) and Mount Union (1995).
Born in Akron, Alford went to high school in Colorado Springs, Colo. and had a standout career at Colorado State. A Doak Walker Award nominee, he gained 1,035 yards in 1989 as a junior under first-year Rams coach Earle Bruce and then helped the Rams to their first bowl game win in 42 years as a senior the following season.
Matt Guerrieri joins staff as senior advisor and analyst
Matt Guerrieri has joined the Ohio State coaching staff in the role of senior advisor and analyst. Guerrieri comes to Ohio State after spending the last 10 years at Duke University.
Guerrieri’s time with the Blue Devils included coaching six years with new Ohio State defensive coordinator/linebacker’s coach Jim Knowles, who was the Blue Devils defensive coordinator from 2010-17. When Knowles left Duke after the 2017 season to go to Oklahoma State, Guerrieri was named co-defensive coordinator, a position he held over the past four seasons.
Guerrieri was a graduate assistant for three seasons at Duke before being name safeties coach prior to the 2015 season. He coached safeties for the next seven seasons, in addition to his co-defensive coordinator responsibilities the past four years. Among his charges with the Blue Devils was former Buckeye and Duke All-American Jeremy Cash, and five additional all-Atlantic Coast Conference players. At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Guerrieri was named one of three finalists for the American Football Coaches Association assistant coach of the year award.
Before joining the Blue Devils, Guerrieri served as a defensive graduate assistant coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2011.
Guerrieri was a three-year letterman on the gridiron at Davidson College, where he started at safety. He served as senior captain for the Wildcats and was a three-time All-Pioneer Football League Honor Roll selection.
Guerrieri, who graduated from Davidson in 2011 with a degree in sociology, earned a master’s degree in Christian studies from Duke in 2014. He is married to the former Alex Thompson of Asheville, N.C., and the couple have one son, James.