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Indiana expected to name Craig Johnson as running backs coach

Tennessee Titans 2010 Headshots Photo by NFL via Getty Images

Per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, Indiana is expected to announce the hire of Craig Johnson to the football coaching staff, replacing the recently departed Deland McCullough. Johnson most recently worked as a senior analyst for the University of Maryland in 2020, but has extensive NFL and college coaching experience.

Johnson first broke into the NFL with the Tennessee Titans as an offensive assistant and quality control coach for the 2000-2001 seasons, before serving as the quarterbacks coach from 2002-2009. He was then promoted to assistant head coach and running backs coach for the Titans in 2010, where he coached Chris Johnson to a 1,364 yard rushing season. He also coached quarterbacks Steve McNair and Vince Young during his tenure with the Titans.

Following his stint in Tennessee, Johnson served as the quarterbacks coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2011-2013, then as the running backs coach for the New York Giants from 2014-2019. Johnson coached rookie of the year Saquon Barkley during his time in New York.

Johnson last coached college football in the 1999 season, when he served as Maryland’s quarterback coach. He also had brief stints at Northwestern, Rutgers, Arkansas, and VMI before making the move to the NFL. Notably, Johnson had some offensive coordinator duties with the Terrapins from 1997-98.

Tom Allen seems to have done well replacing McCullough with another coach who has NFL experience, though Johnson has been out of the college game for longer than McCullough ever was. All three McCullough kids reaffirmed their commitments to Indiana, which also helps soften the blow of Deland’s departure for Notre Dame.

Johnson will be inheriting a completely new running backs room, after Stephen Carr used his final year of eligibility last season and walk-ons Davion Ervin-Poindexter and Chris Childers entered the transfer portal. McCullough helped recruit in transfers Shaun Shivers and Josh Henderson, who will join incoming freshmen Gi’Bran Payne and Jaylin Lucas as Indiana’s running backs entering next season.