Michigan football announces Ohio State RB Tony Alford join Wolverines

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Well, that was fast. Incredibly fast.

After taking a month to go from hiring Wink Martindale, Greg Scruggs, Brian Jean-Mary, and LaMar Morgan to actually announcing their hires, Michigan football has made quick work of stealing Tony Alford away from rival Ohio State.

The nine-year running backs coach and assistant head coach in Columbus is coming north to Ann Arbor to be the running backs coach and run game coordinator.

You can read the full press release, including quotes, below.

Full release

University of Michigan J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach Sherrone Moore announced Wednesday (March 13) the hiring of Tony Alford as the team’s run game coordinator and running backs coach. Alford comes to Ann Arbor after spending the past nine seasons at Ohio State University.

“Tony is an elite running backs coach who is an outstanding mentor and example for young men in all aspects of football and life,” said Moore. “I know that he will have a profound impact on our running back room and football program. We are excited to have Tony and his wife, Trina, and their boys join the Michigan Football Family.”

Alford has coached running backs for the previous 29 seasons in college football, mentoring many of the game’s top performers, and was promoted to assistant head coach for the offense during his final two seasons in Columbus. He brings 31 years of collegiate coaching experience to Ann Arbor.

Alford coached and developed six 1,000-yard backs in his nine seasons at Ohio State. His list of 1,000-yard backs includes Ezekiel Elliott (2015), Mike Weber (2016), J.K. Dobbins (2017, 2018 and 2019) and TreVeyon Henderson (2021). Henderson became just the fourth true freshman in program history to surpass 1,000 yards and his rushing total of 1,248 yards was second only to another Alford protege, Dobbins, among true freshmen in a single season.

Alford’s running backs have earned major national awards during his tenure. Elliott won Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award honors in 2015 when he had an 1,821-yard season and scored 23 touchdowns; Weber was the league’s freshman of the year in 2016; and Dobbins was a first-team All-American and the Earl Campbell/Tyler Rose Award winner in 2019 when he became the first Buckeye to top 2,000 yards in a season with 2,003 yards and 21 rushing TDs.

Alford was a 2015 Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter, a finalist for 247Sports’ 2011 national recruiter of the year and also one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation that same season by Rivals.com.

Dobbins was the first running back in Ohio State history to surpass 1,000 yards rushing as a freshman, sophomore and junior. He set the school record for freshmen running backs with 1,403 yards in 2017 and closed his career as one of just 29 running backs in NCAA history with a 2,000-yard season while amassing 4,459 yards, second at Ohio State only to Archie Griffin’s 5,589 yards.

All of Alford’s starting running backs went on to be drafted: Elliott (No. 4 overall to the Dallas Cowboys in 2016), Weber (No. 218 overall to Dallas in 2019), Dobbins (No. 55 overall in 2020) and Sermon (No. 88 overall in 2021). Elliott became the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2016.

Prior to Ohio State, Alford worked at Notre Dame for six seasons (2009-14). He joined the Irish staff under Charlie Weiss as running backs coach in 2009, and was the only coach retained by new ND coach Brian Kelly in 2010. Alford worked with the receivers his first two seasons under Kelly and helped Michael Floyd to consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and an eventual first-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2012 NFL Draft.

He returned to coaching the running backs for the Irish in 2012 and added the responsibilities of mentoring the slot receivers and serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator. In 2014, Alford coached the running backs and was recruiting coordinator. During his four seasons as running back coach, six different Notre Dame players topped 500 yards in a season, including four with more than 700 yards.

Alford was the running backs coach at the University of Louisville during the 2007-08 seasons under Steve Kragthorpe. In 2008, running back Victor Anderson topped 1,000 yards rushing and was named the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year and a Freshman All-American.

Prior to joining the Louisville staff, Alford spent nine of his next 10 seasons in coaching at Iowa State University. He joined Dan McCarney’s staff as running backs coach and developed players who helped the Cyclones become one of only three Division I programs to produce a 1,000-yard rusher for six consecutive seasons between 1995-2001. The Cyclones improved their national rushing from rankings of 103rd to 17th in Alford’s four years and won their first-ever bowl game to cap a 9-3 season in 2000.

Following one season (2001) as running backs coach at Washington under Rick Neuheisel, Alford returned to Iowa State as McCartney’s assistant coach and running backs coach for the next five seasons (2002-06). During his second stint with the Cyclones, Alford guided Stevie Hicks to a 1,000-yard rushing season, the fifth running back to do so under Alford’s tutelage.

He joined the Iowa State coaching staff as running backs coach after starting his collegiate coaching career in the Midwest at Mount Union (1995) and Kent State (1996). Born in Akron and a native of Ohio for more than 16 years, Alford moved to Colorado Springs as a high school senior.

He enrolled at Colorado State and was a four-year letterman from 1987-90. A 1990 Doak Walker Award nominee, Alford gained 1,035 yards in 1989 and set the conference record with 310 yards vs. Utah, a school record that stood for 24 years. He was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection and earned honorable mention All-American by USA Today as a junior. During Alford’s senior year, Colorado State produced a 9-4 record and qualified for its first bowl game in 42 years.

Alford was a 1992 graduate of Colorado State with a degree in exercise and sport science. He went on to play for the NFL’s Denver Broncos in the preseason and the Birmingham Fire of the World League before embarking on a coaching career.

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