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Football: Hartline plans to ‘maximize’ opportunity as next offensive coordinator

The Lantern
Ohio State promoted Brian Hartline to offensive coordinator Jan. 13. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

Brian Hartline has had a decorated and successful ascension toward becoming Ohio State’s next offensive coordinator.

A native of North Canton, Ohio, Hartline represented his home-state Buckeyes and played wide receiver from 2005-08, suiting up for four teams that won Big Ten championships.

He spent seven seasons in the NFL, then returned to Ohio State as a quality control coach in 2017. Hartline’s responsibilities quickly increased as he became a full-time staff member the next season, and even more so after becoming passing game coordinator prior to last season .

Following the departure of former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who took the head coaching job at Tulsa in December 2022 , head coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes were tasked with searching for someone to assume the vacancy.

Ohio State didn’t have to look far for its next offensive coordinator, elevating Hartline to the position Jan. 13 , and Hartline’s already begun planning how he’ll approach his role starting with spring practice.

“Everything will be on the table the same way as it is now,” Hartline said. “In spring, the more opportunities we get the chance to play it as real as possible for myself and the young quarterbacks and everybody else, I think that serves everybody well.”

Hartline spent the past five seasons as wide receivers coach and has led the Buckeyes to success on and off the field.

Ohio State averaged nearly 300 passing yards per game last fall, and quarterback C.J. Stroud, who declared for the 2023 NFL Draft, finished as the Football Bowl Subdivision’s most-efficient passer, according to the NCAA .

On the recruiting trail, Hartline has had a hand in developing wide receivers into NFL players. Seven Ohio State wideouts have been selected in the NFL Draft since 2017, and he’s helped bring five five-star wide receivers to Ohio State in the past four recruiting cycles.

As offensive coordinator, the approach doesn’t change too much for Hartline, and he said he’s asked himself, “How can I help this team accomplish the goals we want to accomplish?”

“It’s not just carrying a title,” Hartline said. “As you continue to build with any profession, more responsibilities and how you handle those responsibilities and how those fingers reach outside of the responsibilities, you’re technically supposed to have, really just show probably your growth potential.”

Day said Hartline has “done a job of solidifying himself as the best wide receiver coach in the country” and thinks his new role will help him as his coaching career continues to build.

“His knowledge of offensive football is excellent, and now he’s got an opportunity to take that next step in his progression,” Day said.

A number of Ohio State’s coaches on staff saw Hartline rise from quality control coach to next offensive coordinator while being an impressive recruiter and wide receivers coach, including running backs coach Tony Alford and Day.

Offensive line coach Justin Frye said he’s also taken notice of Hartline’s ability after one season coaching together.

“He’s coached at a high level, recruited at a high level, and now for him to have more input and be able to have more of his stamp on it as you would say, I get excited because he’s a damn good football coach,” Frye said. “Him getting a chance to expand and grow is awesome for all of us.”

Ohio State will have a new starting quarterback come the 2023 season, and Day and the Buckeyes will hold a competition throughout spring practice , likely featuring second-year Kyle McCord and first-year Devin Brown.

Hartline said he’ll be “part of the conversation” in determining Ohio State’s next starting signal-caller,  a critical position working in tandem with the Buckeye wide receivers.

“That quarterback room is pretty well established over the last four or five, six years of the standard at which they operate,” Hartline said. “Coach Day, obviously, is the reason for that and coach Dennis. So, those guys will do a great job.”

To Hartline, the role of an offensive coordinator is “multifaceted” and one where a coach can “wear a lot of hats.”

While it may be a new title, and the dynamic around the program may be “a little different,” Hartline said he’s still tasked with bringing out the best in the Buckeyes in all areas of football.

“I would say being an offensive coordinator is putting your fingerprint on things that you find more important than others,” Hartline said. “I think that being able to enhance the people around you. My job as a receiver coach is to get the best out of the receivers. My job as an offensive coordinator is to maximize each guy in that room, each coach in that room, to what they’re capable of.”

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