June 15, 2024

“I THOUGHT IT WAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR ME”: TONY ALFORD REVEALS REASONS HE LEFT OHIO STATE FOR MICHIGAN AND THANKS BUCKEYE COACHES, PLAYERS AND FANS FOR PAST NINE YEARS

In his first press conference as Michigan’s running backs coach, Tony Alford revealed some of the reasons he left Columbus for Ann Arbor in March.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for me,” Alford said. “I have so much respect for (Michigan head coach) Sherrone (Moore). I’ve known him for quite a while. I just thought it was time. It might have been time for both parties. I don’t know. But I thought it was time, and that it was a good opportunity.”

Wearing a blue pullover with a maize M logo stitched on his chest, Alford said it’s been “weird” to put on Michigan attire after walking around in scarlet and gray clothing for the past nine seasons. Alford had been Ohio State’s running backs coach in 2015, making him the second-longest-tenured assistant on the Buckeyes’ staff behind defensive line coach Larry Johnson. During his tenure, he developed the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, J.K. Dobbins and TreVeyon Henderson for the Buckeyes.

On Wednesday, Alford thanked Ohio State’s coaches, players and fans for their hospitality over the past decade.

“I have to say this. I have so much respect for Ohio State and the Ohio State community and what they presented to me and my family through the years. It was not an easy decision,” Alford said. “Anytime you are somewhere for as long as I was – for nine years – there were some groups that had been set in professionally and personally. That was difficult. But at the end of the day, it was something I thought I couldn’t pass up. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

When asked to give a more detailed description of his departure from Ryan Day’s staff, Alford declined.

“The people that need to know, they know,” he said. “You make moves professionally that are in your best interest, whatever those reasons are. That’s what I did, so here we are.”

As for what stood out to him about Michigan, Alford said the players’ toughness and the staff’s alignment were among the main reasons he’s excited to coach for the Wolverines.

“There’s a level of toughness here that’s been established and that’s firm,” Alford said. “The alignment of the staff, what Sherrone has done as far as staff alignment, continuity and togetherness has trickled down to the players. That’s the one thing that stood out. It was the alignment of the staff, in particular the offensive staff.”

Michigan’s running back room will feature Donovan Edwards, Kalel Mullings and Benjamin Hall as its top three ballcarriers. The Wolverines also signed four-star Jordan Marshall in the 2024 class, a recruit Alford attempted to land while coaching for the Buckeyes.

Alford said he looks forward to working with the group this spring, summer and fall.

“They want to be coached. They want to learn. They are anxious to learn,” he said. “They play hard. I think that’s the culture that’s been built here. It’s a culture of toughness. To watch them practice – and the way they go about their daily business – has been really good. I’ve enjoyed that.”

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