Former Ohio State Linebacker Pepper Johnson Named Head Coach At IMG Academy

Johnson was promoted after one season as the Ascenders’ defensive coordinator.
Author:
Publish date:

After serving as the program’s defensive coordinator last season, former Ohio State linebacker Thomas “Pepper” Johnson announced on Wednesday that he has been promoted to head coach at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy.

He replaces Bobby Acosta, who led the Ascenders to the national championship last fall but recently accepted the same job at Del Valle, Texas, the former home of 2022 five-star wide receiver commit Caleb Burton and current home of 2023 four-star wide receiver target Braylon James.

Pepper Johnson

The 56-year-old Johnson played four seasons for the Buckeyes from 1982-85, recording 379 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. He was a two-time team captain and earned All-American honors as a senior.

Johnson was selected by the New York Giants with the 51st overall pick in the second round of the 1986 NFL Draft and won Super Bowl XXI and XXV with the franchise. He also played for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and New York Jets before retiring in 1998.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Johnson finished his professional career with 983 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 14 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles across 13 seasons.

Johnson quickly transitioned into the coaching ranks as he was named the assistant linebackers coach with the New England Patriots in 2000. He served in various roles for the franchise over the next 14 seasons, including linebackers or defensive line coach, and added three more Super Bowls titles (XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX) to his resume.

Johnson also spent time as the defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and Jets from 2015-16 before stints as the defensive coordinator for the Alliance of American Football’s Memphis Express football in 2019 and linebackers coach for the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats in 2020.

Johnson now follows in the footsteps of former Florida State quarterback and 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, high school coaching legend Kevin Wright and Acosta at IMG Academy, which has gone 104-5 since the program started in 2013.

“He's a player's coach, real old school, but willing to do anything to make us better and to have a good time,” 2022 Ohio State four-star offensive tackle target Tyler Booker said of his new head coach. “He’s going to demand the most out of us.”

Additionally, Johnson is the father of former Ohio State fullback Dionte Johnson (2004-07). Together, they were just the third father-son duo to be named team captains during their time with the Buckeyes, joining Jim and Kirk Herbstreit and James and Jeff Davidson

-----

You may also like:

2023 Florida RB Treyaun Webb Includes Ohio State In Top 3

2022 IMG Academy DT Dominick James Sets Commitment Date

Former Ohio State S/ST Nate Ebner Won’t Participate In Tokyo Olympics

2022 Tennessee Running Back Dallan Hayden Commits To Ohio State

How Hayden's Commitment Impacts The Buckeyes' 2022 Recruiting Class

Ohio State G Duane Washington Invited To NBA Draft Combine

Ohio State Alumni Team Carmen's Crew No. 1 Seed In The Basketball Tournament

Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Against NCAA In Athlete Compensation Case

Former Ohio State Track Star Christina Clemons Qualifies For Tokyo Olympics

Ohio State Swimmer Hunter Armstrong Officially Named To U.S. Olympic Team

Eddie George Hires Pepe Pearson, Richard McNutt To Tennessee State Staff

2023 Florida Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss Sets Unofficial Visit To Ohio State

Former USC LB Palaie Gaoteote Appears In Ohio State's Student Directory

The Ohio State Football Program Hosts Eighth Job Fair At Ohio Stadium

Jyaire Brown Becomes Latest Ohio State Pledge To Commit To All-American Bowl

-----

Be sure to stay locked into BuckeyesNow all the time!

Join the BuckeyesNow community!
Subscribe to the BuckeyesNow YouTube channel
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndrewMLind
Follow BuckeyesNow on Twitter: @BuckeyesNowSI
Like and follow BuckeyesNow on Facebook