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Report: Larry Johnson Leaving Penn State
By Matt Maisel
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The last connection to the Joe Paterno-era at Penn State is about to leave the Nittany Lions.
Longtime defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr., who has been with Penn State for the past 18 years, told The Patriot News in Harrisburg he would not return to Happy Valley under James Franklin's staff.
Johnson told reporter Bob Flounders he was offered as Franklin's defensive line coach but declined the position. Johnson admitted he still had plans on coaching in 2014.
"I want to say that I am very appreciative of all that went into my time at Penn State, all the players I've coached and all of the associations that I have,'' Johnson The Patriot News.
"But I've thought a lot about this, I've prayed about it and this is what I want to do. I wish coach Franklin and Penn State the best but it's time for me. It's a very difficult time but I want to thank the fans, the players, and Penn State. I mean that," Johnson said.
Larry Johnson was one of two holdovers from Paterno's staff, along with linebacker's coach Ron Vanderlinden, when Bill O'Brien took over in January 2012. Johnson was named interim head coach when O'Brien took the head coaching job with the Houston Texans on January 1.
Johnson, longtime Penn State's chief recruiter, had expressed interest in becoming the program's 16th head coach when the position opened.
Late Monday night, Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reported Johnson was close to joining Urban Meyer's staff as Ohio State after defensive line coach Mike Vrabel left to join Bill O'Brien's coaching staff in Houston.