football Edit

James Laurinaitis leaves Notre Dame for same role at Ohio State

Marcus Freeman offered James Laurinaitis, his former Ohio State teammate, an opportunity to start a football coaching career in 2022 as a graduate assistant working with linebackers on Freeman's first staff as Notre Dame's head coach.

After one season with the Irish, Laurinaitis received the same opportunity from Ohio State head coach Ryan Day to return to his alma mater in. Ohio State announced Friday that Laurinaitis accepted the position.

“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 in a released statement. “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 accomplished a lot as a player in four seasons at Ohio State (2005-08). He was a three-time All-American, a two-time captain, a 2006 winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the best defensive player in college football and a 2007 winner of the Butkus Award (best linebacker). His experience in college and eight seasons in the NFL allowed Laurinaitis to be a valuable resource for Notre Dame in his rookie coaching season.

Laurinaitis assisted defensive coordinator Al Golden in coaching the linebackers and in recruiting high school prospects as well.

"Outside of football, he’s been really personal with me and been there for me," ND linebacker Prince Kollie said of Laurinaitis in March. "That’s all I can ask for. He has NFL knowledge as well, so I’m really trying to get that from him. He’s a great guy to have in the room."

Laurinaitis developed relationships with all of Notre Dame's 2023 linebacker signees — Drayk Bowen, Jaiden Ausberry and Preston Zinter — and established connections with many of the top linebacker targets in the 2024 class.

Four-star recruit Adarius Hayes, the No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2024 class, spoke to Inside ND Sports earlier this week about his relationship with Laurinaitis.

“I feel very comfortable around him,” Hayes said. “He's a family guy. He talks about his kids. I talk about my niece and nephews. Our relationship is getting stronger and stronger. And, as long as we keep it that way, it’s gonna last. He’s a great coach. Especially because he’s been there. He’s been at the next level. So, he knows what it takes.”

After retiring from the NFL in 2017, Laurinaitis didn't consider coaching. He eventually got the itch after working as a sports talk radio host in Columbus, Ohio, and an an analyst for the Big Ten Network.

“I had been playing football since the fourth grade, was blessed to stay healthy, gosh, from fourth grade through three games of my eighth year (in the NFL), starting every year," Laurinaitis said in August. "The first year (out), you think in your mind, ‘I’m just going to do nothing.’ That lasted about three months.

“And then I got into the media. Had to do something. So you’re close enough to the game. You get to talk about the game you love. … Then you start talking to coaches, start talking ball, start talking scheme, and you’re like ‘Ahhh, OK.’ You start feeling that fire a little bit again.”

The Irish have also lost two analysts so far this offseason: senior offensive analyst Trevor Mendelson to Western Michigan as its offensive line coach and offensive analyst Gus Ragland to East Tennessee State as its tight ends coach.


• Talk with Notre Dame fans on The Insider Lounge.

• Subscribe to the Inside ND Sports podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Podbean or Pocket Casts.

• Subscribe to the Inside ND Sports channel on YouTube.

• Follow us on Twitter: @insideNDsports, @EHansenND, @TJamesND and @ByKyleKelly.

• Like us on Facebook: Inside ND Sports

• Follow us on Instagram: @insideNDsports