Wisconsin announces hire of Al Johnson as RBs coach

Wisconsin officially has its new running backs coach.

The school announced Thursday that Al Johnson would replace Gary Brown in coaching one of the most important positions at Wisconsin. Johnson, who played and coached for the Badgers previously, returns to Madison after spending the last four seasons as the head coach at East Central University.

“I’m really excited to be able to bring Al back,” head coach Paul Chryst said in a release. “He’s a great coach and a tremendous person. His experience as a head coach and in all facets of the offense will help us immensely. Al truly cares about the players and helping them in their development and he is a great addition to our staff.”

Johnson was an All-Big Ten center for Wisconsin in the early 2000s. After a seven-year career in the NFL, the 43-year-old Johnson turned to coaching. He eventually served as a graduate assistant with the Badgers in 2016 and 2017 helping former coach Joe Rudolph with the offensive line.

“My family and I are thrilled to be back at Wisconsin,” Johnson said in the release. “I’m incredibly thankful to Coach Chryst for this opportunity. It’s truly an honor. You can’t say no to the Wisconsin Badgers.

“The absolute best part of coaching is helping to develop players on and off the field. I wouldn’t be where I am today or have accomplished the things I have in my career without the people at Wisconsin who set me up for success. My goal is do the same thing for our players. When you add to that the opportunity to help our guys uphold the tradition we have at running back, this is a fantastic opportunity. I’m truly grateful.”

Brown has stepped away from coaching and will assume an off-field role, the program said.

Wisconsin opens spring practice next Tuesday.