- Franklin Announces Penn State Coaching Staff
- Coaching Staff Introductory Press Conference Transcript
- Coordinators Press Conference Transcript
- Assistant Coach Quotes
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin and his staff hit the ground running from the time each member arrived in Happy Valley. With less than two weeks remaining before signing day on Feb. 5, the coaching staff has been nonstop in its quest to lock up the 2014 recruiting class.
Franklin announced his first Penn State staff on Friday morning at Beaver Stadium. Each member of the group is thrilled to be in Happy Valley and looking forward to the future of Penn State Football. Counting Coach Franklin, four members of the coaching staff are originally from Pennsylvania. Additionally, eight out of the 10 coaches are from hometowns within 340 miles of State College (4 from Pa., 1 from N.J., 1 from Md., 1 from Conn., 1 from N.Y.).
"I'm really, really excited about the staff that we've been able to put together," Franklin said. "For me, what I was looking for is really familiarity; guys that I've worked with or known for a very, very long time, guys that I trust, guys that I know how they're going to interact with the players and these young men that we're working with. How these guys are going to be in the community, and also have a connection with Penn State from a lot of different perspectives."
"We will not have one guy on this staff that I don't feel is going to be an excellent recruiter, and that is really what we're looking for," Franklin said.
Meet the 2014 Penn State Football coaching staff.
John Donovan - Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends
"Offensively, we're personnel-oriented, pro-style offense. So we basically, we're pro terminology. The guys learn the system that's used at the next level. It has answers. We don't run dead plays. There are reasons to run in certain spots. If there is somebody coming free on a pass protection, we're either throwing the ball, breaking a route or the back's got to pick them up, the line's got to pick them up," Donovan said.
Donovan served as the offensive coordinator/running backs coach during three of the most productive offensive seasons in Vanderbilt history. While coaching under Franklin from 2011-13, his backfield recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard rushers for the first time in school history when Zac Stacy rushed for 1,193 yards in 2011 and 1,141 yards in 2012. Stacy earned second team All-SEC and was a fifth round selection of the St. Louis Rams in 2012. After averaging 379.7 yards of total offense per game in 2012, the Commodores averaged 366.5 yards a contest in 2013, marking the first time since 1987-88 they put together back-to-back years of more than 360 yards of total offense per game. Donovan's offensive units own three of the top four total yardage marks in school history, gaining at least 4,400 yards of total offense in each season, including a school record 4,936 yards in 2012. He led an offensive unit that averaged 30.0 points per game in 2012, marking the first time in school history they averaged 30 or more points per game, and followed that up with a school record 30.1 points per game in 2013. Donovan and Franklin spent time coaching with one another at Maryland, where Franklin was the offensive coordinator and Donovan coached the running backs for the Terps from 2008-10. He also spent time on staff at Georgia Tech (1998-2000) and Villanova (1997). Donovan earned his bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins, where he excelled as a defensive back for the Blue Jays, grabbing 12 career interceptions. He also owns a master's degree in economics from Georgia Tech.
Hometown: River Edge, N.J.
Alma Mater: Johns Hopkins
Degrees: Bachelor's, Johns Hopkins, 1997; Master's, economics, Georgia Tech
Family: wife, Stacey; son, John Patrick, and daughters, Cate and Shea
2011-13 - Vanderbilt (offensive coordinator/running backs)
2008-10 - Maryland (running backs)
2006-07 - Maryland (quarterbacks)
2005 - Maryland (running backs)
2001-04 - Maryland (assistant recruiting coordinator)
1998-2000 - Georgia Tech (offensive graduate assistant)
1997 - Villanova (assistant secondary)
Josh Gattis - Offensive Recruiting Coordinator/Wide Receivers
"When Coach Franklin extended this opportunity, it was a no-brainer. Obviously I've got the most tremendous respect for Coach Franklin. As Coach Huff mentioned earlier, he's been a true father figure for a lot of us. He's been a father figure for me. He's the guy I look up to as a coach and role model, so we have a very, very personal relationship that I really value a lot. There wouldn't be another opportunity in the country that could take me from this place and I'm really excited to be here at Penn State, I'm excited to be with Coach Franklin, and I look forward to the future that we're able to build here," said Gattis.
Gattis has made an immediate impact in coaching after earning All-ACC honors as a safety at Wake Forest and spending two seasons playing with the NFL's Chicago Bears. From Durham, N.C., he is entering his fifth season in the coaching ranks and third year working with Franklin. Gattis has coached a pair of All-America wideouts, helping Western Michigan's Jordan White earn the honor in 2011 when he led the NCAA with 127 receptions for 1,646 yards in 2012. White's totals set new Western Michigan and Mid-American Conference records, while also helping him set the conference's career receiving yardage record. After spending the 2011 season with the Broncos, Gattis joined Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt in 2012 and tutored Jordan Matthews to back-to-back All-America honors in 2012 and 2013. Matthews ended his career as the SEC's career leader in receptions (257) and receiving yards (3,616), while also owning the SEC single-season record with 107 catches. Matthews is also the only player in league history to ever record two seasons of at least 90 catches and the only player to catch over 100 passes. Gattis also spent one season at North Carolina (2010) as a graduate assistant on their offensive coaching staff.
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
Alma Mater: Wake Forest
Education: Bachelor's, sociology, Wake Forest, 2006
2012-13 - Vanderbilt (offensive recruiting coordinator/wide receivers)
2011 - Western Michigan (wide receivers)
2010 - North Carolina (0ffensive graduate assistant)
Herb Hand - Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line
"There was a huge amount of excitement because it's Penn State. Most of the places that I've worked at, I've had to do more with less, and that's not a knock on anywhere, but this is a more with more place. This place is about having the opportunity to do more with more and that's exciting you know. Now what we want to do is we want to approach it with the same regard, because when you have to do more with 'less', you have to attack things in a different way. Now we want to attack it in the same way, with more, so there's an excitement level with that," Hand said.
Hand's coaching career spans 23 years and includes stops at seven different colleges/universities. He spent the last four seasons coaching with Franklin at Vanderbilt, serving as the offensive line coach during each of those four seasons, adding run game coordinator to his duties in 2013. Last season, Hand's offensive line blocked for 34 rushing scores, including a school-record 14 by running back Jerron Seymour. Wesley Johnson earned All-SEC honors in 2012 and 2013, while Thomas Lynch was picked by New England in the 2010 NFL Draft and Ryan Seymour, who made 35 starts during his Commodore career, was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2013 NFL Draft. During his three years at Tulsa, serving as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and line coach, Hand helped guide Tulsa to consecutive GMAC Bowl appearances behind one of the NCAA's most explosive spread offenses. He also spent time at West Virginia (2001-06), Clemson (1999-2000), Concord College (1997-98), Glenville State College (1994-96) and West Virginia Wesleyan (1991-93). Hand earned his bachelor's degree from Hamilton College; where he played on the offensive line for the Continentals, and went on to earn his master's degree from West Virginia Wesleyan.
Hometown: Westmoreland, N.Y.
Alma Mater: Hamilton College
Education: Bachelor's, History, Hamilton College, 1990; Master's, Business Administration, West Virginia Wesleyan, 1993
Family: wife, Debbie, sons, Trey and Cade, daughter, Bailey
2013 - Vanderbilt (offensive line/run game coordinator)
2010-12 - Vanderbilt (offensive line)
2009 - Tulsa (assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/offensive line)
2007-08 - Tulsa (co-offensive coordinator/offensive line)
2001-06 - West Virginia (tight ends/recruiting coordinator)
1999-2000 - Clemson (offensive graduate assistant)
1997-98 - Concord College (defensive coordinator/special teams)
1994-96 - Glenville State College (defensive coordinator)
1991-93 - West Virginia Wesleyan (defensive graduate assistant)
Charles Huff - Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs
"Our special teams here at Penn State will have two distinct characteristics. One is a nekton mentality. I'm not sure how many science teachers are in the building. But a nekton is a living organism that can flow freely through water not affected by the current, and it's always attacking. The most reasonable example will be a great white shark. A great white shark will eat and eat and eat until it dies, and it won't say I'm full. That's how we'll be on special teams. We'll attack, and attack, and attack.
"The second characteristic will be a pre-Fontaine pace. Steve Prefontaine was a 1970s long-distance runner who died a little before his time. But he coined the term of 'suicide pace.' So from the time the gun went off, he was sprinting. From the time we come off the mat, we'll be flying around. Any person that steps on the mat that is a special teams player here at Penn State will be flying around from the time, if we make a mistake, we're going to make it a hundred miles an hour," said Huff.
Huff was a versatile player during his time at Hampton, playing multiple positions on offense, and that has helped him in his eight-year coaching career that has spanned the collegiate and professional ranks. He spent one season at Western Michigan (2013) as the running backs coach and helped the unit nearly double their rushing yards in just one season. The Broncos ran for 1,394 yards last season after running for just 735 yards in 2012. He spent the 2012 season with the Buffalo Bills where he helped C.J. Spiller to his first career 1,000-yard rushing campaign. The Bills topped 2,000 rushing yards as a team for the first time in 13 seasons and ranked sixth in the NFL with 2,217 yards. He spent the 2011 season on Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt as the offensive quality control coach and worked with him at Maryland in 2009. He also worked at Hampton (2010) as the offensive line/running game coordinator, worked as the tight ends/special team's coach at Tennessee State (2007-08), working with NFL first round draft pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He also coached at TSU in 2006 as an offensive line coach.
Hometown: Denton, Md.
Alma Mater: Hampton
Education: Bachelors, physical education, Hampton, 2005
2013 - Western Michigan (running backs)
2012 - Buffalo Bills (assistant running backs coach)
2011 - Vanderbilt (offensive quality control)
2010 - Hampton (offensive line, running game coordinator)
2009 - Maryland (assistant offensive line)
2007-08 - Tennessee State (tight ends/special teams coach)
2006 - Tennessee State (center and offensive guards)
Brent Pry - Assistant Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
"We are going to be fundamental based. I'm a big believer in training linebackers that will not only reach their potential, but they will be applicable to any scheme. I don't want guys that are geared towards 4-3, 3-4, 50 front; I want guys that can be plugged in anywhere. I like guys that play great defense with great foot speed and great motors. When I think about Penn State linebackers these are the type of linebackers I trained over my years. They are fundamentally sound, technically sound and it starts there, from the ground up. It's our goal to develop guys to get them to their full potential. To be able to fit them in a role in our group and our unit that allows them to be successful," Pry said.
A native of Altoona, Pa., Pry's coaching career has spanned 21 years and seven different programs. He has helped each program to new heights, including nine appearances in bowl games with FBS programs. White on Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt, Pry tutored the linebackers, while serving as the co-defensive coordinator, and moved into the assistant head-coaching role in 2013. His linebackers led the team in tackles-for-loss during each of his three seasons in Nashville and he helped Chris Marve earn All-SEC accolades in 2011. While at Georgia Southern in 2010, his defensive unit helped the Eagles to a win over No. 1 Appalachian State and an appearance in the 2010 NCAA FCA Semifinals. From 2007-09, Pry's defensive line corps featured some of the best in Conference USA and helped the Tigers to back-to-back bowl appearances. He also spent time at Louisiana-Lafayette (2002-06), helping the Ragin' Cajuns to their first Sun Belt Conference championship, Western Carolina (1998-01), Virginia Tech (1995-98), helping the Hokies to four straight bowl games and a win in the 1995 Sugar Bowl, and at East Stroudsburg (1993-94). A second-generation college football coach, Pry's father, Jim, coached at the collegiate level for over 30 years.
Hometown: Altoona, Pa.
Alma Mater: Buffalo
Education: Bachelor's, history, Buffalo, 1993
Family: wife, Amy; son, Colby, daughters, Madeline and Catherine
2013 - Vanderbilt (assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/linebackers)
2011-12 - Vanderbilt (co-defensive coordinator/linebackers)
2010 - Georgia Southern (defensive coordinator and safeties)
2007-09 - Memphis (defensive line)
2004-06 - Louisiana-Lafayette (assistant head coach, defensive coordinators and linebackers)
2002-03 - Louisiana-Lafayette (defensive coordinator and linebackers)
2000-01 - Western Carolina (defensive backs and special teams)
1998-99 - Western Carolina (defensive line)
1995-98 - Virginia Tech (graduate assistant, defensive line)
1993-94 - East Stroudsburg University (outside linebackers and defensive backs)
Ricky Rahne - Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks
"I think my players would say I work hard and be over the top prepared. I think they would say I coach with a lot of passion. I'm going to be the first one to jump on their back and high five them after they do something great but I'm going to be the first one to jump down their throats at practice when they do something wrong. I coach with a lot of heart and I believe this game is played with passion and you're only successful if you're really passionate. The other thing I think they'd say about me is that I'm going to try treat them like family," said Rahne.
Rahne made an impression on Franklin during his time as a graduate assistant and running backs coach at Kansas State. He joined Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt in 2011 and coaches the quarterbacks during his three seasons in Nashville. His passing attacks helped wide receivers set SEC records and running backs post a pair of 1,000-yard seasons. In 2012, Jordan Rogers threw for the fourth highest yardage total in Vanderbilt history and logged the eighth most yards of total offense. A season later, Austyn Carta-Samuels moved into the top-10 in single season Vanderbilt history with 2,383 yards of total offense, even with missing three games. He also spent five seasons at Kansas State, serving as the offensive graduate assistant (2006), running backs (2007-08) and tight ends (2009-10) coach. He helped the Wildcats to the 2006 Texas Bowl and the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl. Former pupil tight end Jeron Masturd has spent the past three seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. He also spent time on the coaching staff at Cornell (2005) and Holy Cross (2004). A three time team MVP during his time as the signal caller at Cornell, Rahne left the school with a bachelor's degree in 2002 and ended his stay in Ithaca, N.Y., as the all-time leader in nearly every passing category.
Hometown: Morrison, Colo.
Alma Mater: Cornell
Education: Bachelors, industrial and labor relations, Cornell, 2002
Family: wife, Jennifer; two sons, Ryder and Jake
2011-13 - Vanderbilt (quarterbacks)
2009-10 - Kansas State (tight ends)
2007-08 - Kansas State (running backs)
2006 - Kansas State (offensive graduate assistant)
2005 - Cornell (running backs)
2004 - Holy Cross (assistant defensive line)
Bob Shoop - Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
"Our identity is we're an in-your-face style of defense that's going to be fun to watch and even more fun for our players to play, I promise you that. It is based on two premises, relentless pursuit and never‑ending pressure," said Shoop.
Shoop brings more than 25 seasons of collegiate coaching experience back to his home state at one of the most storied programs in college football. Shoop spent his last three seasons on Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach, helping the Commodores finish among the top-25 in total defense each season. His 2012 squad held opponents to just 18.7 points per game, which is the lowest by a VU squad since 1997. Cornerback Casey Heyward, who nabbed seven interceptions in 2011 and is tied for the career record with 15 interceptions, earned All-America and All-SEC honors as a senior. He is now a standout cornerback for the Green Bay Packers after being drafted in the second round by the team in 2012. Shoop also had coaching stints at Massachusetts (2006), Columbia (2003-05), Boston College (1999-2002), Army (1998), Villanova (1997), Yale (1989, 19994-96), Northeastern (1991-93) and Virginia (1990). He played his college football at Yale, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1988 after earning honorable mention All-Ivy League in 1987 as a receiver. A native of Oakmont, Pa., Shoop is a member of the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
Hometown: Oakmont, Pa.
Alma Mater: Yale
Education: Bachelor of Arts, economics, Yale, 1988
Family: wife, Maura; two sons, Tyler and Jay
2011-13 - Vanderbilt (defensive coordinator/safeties)
2007-10 - William & Mary (defensive coordinator, secondary)
2006 - University of Massachusetts (defensive backs)
2003-05 - Columbia (head coach)
1999-2002 - Boston College (defensive secondary)
1998 - Army (defensive secondary)
1997 - Villanova (defensive coordinator)
1994-96 - Yale (defensive coordinator)
1991-93 - Northeastern (defensive backs)
1990 - Virginia (graduate assistant)
1989 - Yale (graduate assistant)
Terry Smith - Defensive Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Backs
"When I walked into the Lasch building I almost forgot how nice it is here. It's just a great place and I've had a lot of fond memories here and hopefully look to create lot of new memories in the future.
"This is a staff that has been together for three years and I have to come in and fit into that staff. I can give them the Penn State perspective and obviously Coach Franklin is going to put the exclamation point on and have us do it his way. I think it's a great fit for the University," Smith said.
A standout wide receiver at Penn State from 1988-91, Smith returns to Happy Valley after successful coaching stops in high school and college, coupled with five seasons of professional football experience. Still among the career receptions and receiving yards leaders at Penn State, Smith spent the 2013 campaign at Temple and helped the Owls passing game reach new heights. The Owls set a school record for passing yards (2,996) and tied the school standard with 23 receiving touchdowns in 2013. Robby Anderson's 791 receiving yards in 2013 rank him fifth for a single season, which includes a school record 249 yards vs. SMU on Oct. 26. Smith's receiving corps posted four 100-yard receiving games, marking the first time since 2010 the Owls had a 100-yard receiver in a game. A standout high school player at Gateway (Pa.) High School, Smith also coached his alma mater from 2002-12, compiling a record of 101-30 and posting four WPIAL AAAA runner-up finishes. He was elected to the Gateway Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, after helping the Gators to the 1985 and 1986 WPIAL AAAA Championships. He also coached at Duquesne University (1997-2000) and Hempfield (Pa.) High School (1996) after completing his playing career, which spanned the National Football League, American Football League and Canadian Football League. Smith earned his bachelor's from Penn State in 1991 and was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 11th round of the 1992 NFL Draft.
Hometown: Monroeville, Pa.
College: Penn State
Education: Bachelor's, business management, Penn State, 1991
Family: wife, Alison; son, Justin King, daughter, Haley
2013 - Temple (wide receivers)
2003-12 - Gateway High School (head coach and athletic director)
2002 - Gateway High School (head coach)
2001 - Gateway High School (offensive coordinator)
1997-2000 - Duquesne (passing coordinator)
1996 - Hempfield High School (assistant)
Sean Spencer - Defensive Line
"We get after it. We talk about competition, so when we talk about it, we have to instill it in practices, you have to put competitive situations together. You can't just say be competitive. We will call the kids out and make them go one-on-one in practice. We try and get the guys fired up," Spencer said.
Spencer has spent time coaching on both sides of the ball during his 18 seasons as a collegiate assistant coach, but he has been exclusively building defenses since 2001. In three years on Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt, his defensive lines helped the Commodores finish 18th in total defense during the 2011 season, 19th in 2012 and 23rd in 2013. The Commodores increased their sack totals in 2011 and 2012, collecting 28 and 31, respectively, while ending the 2013 season with 27 quarterback takedowns. Prior to arriving in Nashville, he spent two seasons at Bowling Green, where he helped Chris Jones earn All-Mid-American Conference honors and helped the Falcons to the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, despite not returning a single starter on the defensive line. He coached two stints at Massachusetts, coaching the defensive line in 2007-08 and in 2001-03, also coordinating the special teams during his final stint with the Minutemen. Spencer also had coaching stints at Hofstra (2006), Villanova (2005), College of Holy Cross (2004), Trinity College (1998-2000) and Shippensburg (1996-97). A three-year starter at safety at Clarion University, Spencer earned his bachelor's degree in political science.
Hometown: Hartford, Conn.
Alma Mater: Clarion
Education: Bachelor's, political science, Clarion, 1995
2011-13 - Vanderbilt (defensive line)
2009-10 - Bowling Green (defensive line)
2007-08 - University of Massachusetts (defensive line, special teams coordinator)
2006 - Hofstra (defensive line)
2005 - Villanova (linebackers)
2004 - College of Holy Cross (defensive line)
2001-03 - University of Massachusetts (defensive line)
1998-2000 - Trinity College (running backs, passing game coordinator, defensive line)
1996-97 - Shippensburg University (running backs)
Dwight Galt - Director of Performance Enhancement
"We are going to be extremely aggressive all year round in strength and power training. Our speed program, our agility program, our condition, our flexibility, ply metrics, our footwork drills, our position specific drills, that's what we do. That's the one thing that we take pride in. We convert the strength in the weight room to what you need in Beaver Stadium. Our whole objective is performance in Beaver Stadium. Not in the weight room or on the practice field, but in Beaver Stadium and that's what the program is designed for. So it is extremely aggressive, dynamic and it's greedy. Anything that's going to help make them great, we're going to tackle it full force," Galt said.
In 25 years at the college level, Galt has helped produce numerous NFL prospects and currently has nearly 40 former athletes active in the National Football League. He worked with Franklin at Maryland, where he spent 22 years, before joining him at Vanderbilt in 2011. A slew of Galt-trained athletes have amazed NFL scouts, such as tight end Vernon Davis and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Davis and Heyward- Bey rank among the Top 10 all-time performers at the combine: Davis posting the fastest 40-yard dash ever by a tight end (4.36) and Heyward-Bey running the fastest 40 (4.30) by a wide out in more than a decade. Galt worked with the ACC championship football teams in 1984 and 1985, and also was the conditioning coach for the Terps' men's basketball program that featured phenom Len Bias.
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