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Report: Josh Heupel focusing on Ohio State LB coach Al Washington for defensive coordinator position

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Josh Heupel’s search for a defensive coordinator has been kept pretty quiet to this point. However, as of Sunday afternoon, one name has emerged in the hunt.

Ohio State’s Al Washington, currently the Buckeyes’ linebackers coach, is who Heupel is ‘zeroing in’ on to fill the vacancy, per John Brice at FootballScoop.

“Multiple sources on Sunday tell FootballScoop that the Vols’ search for Josh Heupel’s first defensive coordinator is centering on popular Ohio State assistant coach, Al Washington,” — John Brice, Football Scoop.

Washington has been at Ohio State for the past two seasons, coming over from Michigan. The 36-year-old assistant coach played for Boston College from 2002-2006. He’s spent the last decade climbing up the coaching ladder, including stops at Elon, Boston College and Cincinnati. Washington has yet to call plays in his career.

One interesting note — Washington has coached running backs, defensive line and linebackers to this point.

Washington is a key recruiter for the Buckeyes, currently sitting atop the 2022 recruiter rankings at 247Sports. Washington finished 52nd in that same ranking for the 2021 cycle. He’s credited with landing two five-star prospects in Columbus — defensive end Jack Sawyer and running back TreVeyon Henderson.

Tennessee has yet to officially announce the hiring of any assistants yet. Expect that to change this week, with a heavy UCF influence on the offensive side of the ball. As for the defensive side, Heupel may have his man in Washington. If that’s the case, expect Washington to have a heavy influence in filling out his defensive assistant roles as he gets his first big-time shot at being a coordinator.