Universities such as Kent State seeking young, up-and-coming candidates for their football coaching vacancies may already have Ohio State assistant Luke Fickell on their radar.
But Fickell, OSU's co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, enhanced his resume Tuesday when he was named Division I's assistant coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association.
The award, first presented in 1997, is given to coaches in five divisions for dedication to their teams and communities.
A Columbus native, Fickell played for the Buckeyes from 1992-96, starting his final four seasons at nose guard. After a year on injured reserve with the New Orleans Saints, Fickell returned to OSU, serving as a graduate assistant in 1999. From 2000-01, he worked at the University of Akron as defensive line coach.
In 2002 he joined coach Jim Tressel's OSU staff, spending his first two years handling special teams and assisting with the defensive line. He was named co-defensive coordinator in 2005, sharing the title with Jim Heacock.
"I am extremely honored, because I know there are eight other assistant coaches at Ohio State and thousands of assistants across the country that deserve this recognition," Fickell said in a press release from the AFCA. "Thanks especially to all our players, because they are the ones who make us look good as coaches.''
The AFCA cited Fickell for his 2nd & 7 Foundation, founded with former OSU teammates Mike Vrabel and Ryan Miller. It sponsors a FUNdamental Football Camp, with the proceeds used to purchase books for second graders in seven Central Ohio elementary schools. The organization is also involved in the “Tackle Illiteracy” program, which includes reading to second graders.
Fickell has coached nine All-Big Ten players, four All-Americans and 10 who have played in the NFL During his nine years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have won five Big Ten titles, participated in seven bowl games and twice played for the national championship.