Jeff Hafley has made a tremendous impact on Ohio State's defense in his first year as the Buckeyes' co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach, and now, he has the chance to win an award for it.
Hafley was named Wednesday as one of 41 nominees for this year's Broyles Award, which honors college football's top assistant coach.
Broyles Award list of nominees for CFBs best assistant coach. pic.twitter.com/BKuBAJNXUn— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 13, 2019
Along with fellow co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, Hafley has engineered a dramatic turnaround for Ohio State's defense, which currently leads the nation with only 8.6 points allowed per game and 214.8 yards allowed per game after giving up 25.5 points per game and 403.4 yards per game in 2018.
That defense has been anchored in part by excellent play from Hafley's secondary, led by Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette at cornerback, Shaun Wade at slot cornerback and Jordan Fuller at safety.
In his first year as an Ohio State assistant coach following seven years in the NFL, Hafley has also emerged as one of the nation's best recruiters. He's led the way in recruiting some of the top commits in Ohio State's recruiting class of 2020, including a pair of top-100 defensive backs in Clark Phillips and Lathan Ransom, and is currently ranked by 247Sports as the No. 4 recruiter for the 2020 class.
The frontrunner for this year's Broyles Award is likely to be LSU passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Brady, who has led the way for LSU's offense to become one of the nation's most explosive and for former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow to become the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, but Ohio State's defensive excellence this year makes Hafley as worthy a candidate as anyone.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch, who was a co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State last year, and former Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman, who is now the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati, are also among the 41 nominees.