Mike Vrabel leaves Ohio State for Texans

Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive line coach Mike Vrabel directs his defense against the Florida A&M Rattlers at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 76-0.

Greg Bartram/Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Vrabel is leaving Ohio State to join Bill O’Brien’s staff with the Houston Texans, an Ohio State spokesperson confirmed on Thursday evening.

Vrabel went straight from a 14-year NFL playing career into coaching at his alma mater over the last three seasons, first as linebackers coach under Luke Fickell in 2011 and the last two as defensive line coach under Urban Meyer.

The loss of Vrabel is a hit to Meyer’s recruiting machine. Vrabel’s NFL experience, Super Bowl rings and connections helped the Buckeyes recruit well in Vrabel’s native Northeast Ohio and nationwide.

Vrabel played for the New England Patriots when O’Brien was an assistant there in 2007-08. O’Brien has not yet hired a defensive coordinator but multiple reports have linked Romeo Crennel, another former Patriots assistant who coached Vrabel, to the opening.

As a player, Vrabel was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year (1995-96) and twice set the school’s single-season sack record. He was a third-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1997.

Vrabel’s departure is the second from the Ohio State defensive staff since the Buckeyes lost in the Big Ten Championship Game. Everett Withers, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach, accepted the head-coaching job at James Madison.