Ohio State Hires Former Indiana Co-Defensive Coordinator, OSU Senior Advisor and Analyst Matt Guerrieri As Safeties Coach

By Andy Anders on January 10, 2024 at 2:06 pm
Matt Guerrieri

A familiar face is back to coach safeties for Ohio State's defense.

Matt Guerrieri, who served as a senior advisor and analyst for the Buckeyes in 2022 before a year as Indiana's co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach, is back to replace the recently fired Perry Eliano. Ohio State officially announced Guerrieri’s hiring on Wednesday.

Per Ohio State’s announcement, Guerrieri will hold the title of safeties coach “with additional responsibilities to be assigned.”

Guerrieri has a long track record with Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Guerrieri held his first FBS job as a graduate assistant under Knowles at Duke in 2012. He became Duke’s safeties coach in 2015.

Matt Guerrieri's Coaching History
Lenoir-Rhyne 2011 Graduate Assistant
Duke 2012-14 Graduate Assistant
Duke 2015-17 Safeties
Duke 2018-21 Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
Ohio State 2022 Senior Advisor/Analyst
Indiana 2023 Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
Ohio State 2024- Safeties Coach

Guerrieri has coached alongside Knowles for seven seasons between their time together at Duke and his year as an OSU analyst.

“He’s been everything,” Guerrieri said of Knowles in a September interview with Eleven Warriors. “I didn't know anybody in coaching, so I worked as many camps as I possibly could, and one of the camps that I worked was Duke’s camp. ... I just worked the camp with him, that's how I got to know him, on a Saturday in the middle of June. And anyways, built a relationship with him, was fortunate to shortly after that interview for a GA job there, and was fortunate to get that and then our relationship kind of took off from there. So since I've been with him, he put his arm around me and mentored me, and on and off the field, he's been a huge influence on my life.”

“He put his arm around me and mentored me, and on and off the field, he's been a huge influence on my life.”– Matt Guerrieri on Jim Knowles' influence on him

After Knowles departed Duke for Oklahoma State before the 2018 season, Guerrieri was promoted to be the Blue Devils' co-defensive coordinator alongside defensive line coach Ben Albert. Guerrieri and Albert shared Duke’s defensive coordinator duties for four years.

With Guerrieri primarily in charge of the secondary, the Blue Devils pass defense finished 36th, 24th and 63rd in his first three years as co-DC before bottoming out to 129th in 2021.

Still, he was nominated for the Broyles Award as the best assistant coach in the country in 2018 and was one of three finalists for AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2020.

Indiana finished 101st in scoring defense and 87th in pass defense during his season in Bloomington. Guerrieri was not retained by new Indiana head coach Curt Cignetti.

Ohio State isn't hiring Guerrieri to coordinate its defense, however. He's coming in to recruit and develop safeties while Knowles will continue to call the defensive plays.

Players seemed to gravitate toward Guerrieri during his previous time in Columbus.

"I love Coach G, man," Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom said before the Buckeyes played Indiana in September. "When he was here, that was my guy, one of the smartest guys I know. And I think he brings a lot of good things. I mean, you see how successful he was at Duke. You saw how successful he was here. And to go there, I'm honestly really happy for him, but when we get on that field, it's us against him."

Guerrieri developed safety Michael Carter into a fifth-round 2021 NFL draft pick during his tenure at Duke, making Carter the first Blue Devil defensive back to be drafted since Ross Cockrell in 2014, when Guerrieri was still a graduate assistant. After a position change, Carter has started at cornerback for the New York Jets for three straight seasons and racked up 185 tackles with 23 pass breakups for his career.

A native of Northeast Ohio, Guerrieri grew up with an appreciation of the Big Ten and its traditions.

"The Big Ten, I think, is arguably one of the greatest conferences in the country and a chance to be able to be back in this league and obviously one that I was in a year ago, it was definitely a big draw," Guerrieri said about why he returned to the Big Ten last year after a brief stint as Tulsa’s defensive coordinator.

Knowles will surely be excited to work with Guerrieri once again as Ohio State tries to build on what was already the nation's No. 1 passing defense in 2023.

“I do have great respect for Matt,” Knowles said in September. “He’s, I don't know if I have to say a son to me, I'm not much older, maybe a little brother.”

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