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Ohio State Adds Former Duke Linebackers Coach Sam McGrath To Defensive Staff

McGrath is reunited with new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and senior advisor/analyst Matt Guerrieri.

Former Duke linebackers coach Sam McGrath announced on Friday morning he has accepted an unspecified off-field position with the Ohio State football program.

A native of Longmeadow, Mass., McGrath began his coaching career in 2012 as the outside linebackers coach and assistant special teams coordinator at Fairleigh Dickinson. He followed that with stints as a graduate assistant at Stevenson University and the outside linebackers/safeties coach at Wagner College before joining the Blue Devils’ staff in 2015.

McGrath spent the first three years in Durham as a graduate assistant, working primarily with the linebackers and then-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Jim Knowles, who was named the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator last month.

After three additional years as a defensive quality control coach, McGrath was promoted to linebackers coach in February 2021 following Lanier Goethie’s departure for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

"Sam McGrath epitomizes everything a young man in the coaching profession should be," former Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said at the time. "He's worked extremely hard, soaked up knowledge from a variety of mentors and displayed a unique ability to remain patient while pursuing his goals, and I couldn't be prouder of Sam in earning this opportunity. 

“His attributes, both on and off the field, coupled with his experience with our linebackers when Jim Knowles was with us, made this the right choice at the right time."

McGrath is just the latest addition to the revamped coaching staff, which includes Knowles former Blue Devils co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Matt Guerrieri, who was named a senior advisor and analyst earlier this month.

He is notably married to former Duke diver Abby Johnston, an Upper Arlington, Ohio, native who won a silver medial in the synchronized three-meter springboard competition at the 2012 London Olympics. She also competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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