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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - Brent Pry has been elevated to associate head coach and defensive coordinator, Penn State head football coach James Franklin announced today. Pry has spent the last five seasons on Franklin's staff as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Vanderbilt and Penn State. He held the title of assistant head coach for the last three seasons.
Additionally, Franklin announced that Terry M. Smith has been promoted to assistant head coach while retaining the title of defensive recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach. Defensive line coach Sean Spencer will serve as run game coordinator.
"Brent has had a dramatic impact on our defense and our team for the last five years and he is very deserving of this opportunity to move into the defensive coordinator position," Franklin said. "Brent's promotion will help make this a smooth transition and allow us to continue to build one of the top defenses in the country."
"I am very honored and appreciative of the opportunity to be the defensive coordinator at Penn State," Pry said. "I am excited about the future of this program and this defense. There has been a lot of work put in these first two years by a very loyal group of players, coaches and staff. I'm looking forward to the successes that lie ahead for our football family."
A native of Altoona, Pa., Pry's coaching career has spanned 23 years and began during James Franklin's final two seasons (1993-94) as an All-PSAC quarterback at East Stroudsburg University. Pry has helped each program he's coached at to success, including 11 bowl appearances, with Top 25 finishes in total defense in each of his last five seasons (two at Penn State; three at Vanderbilt). He also has played an instrumental role working with Top 10 defenses at Virginia Tech, Georgia Southern and Western Carolina.
As co-defensive coordinator for Penn State, Pry helped direct a unit that had back-to-back Top 15 finishes in total defense. In 2015, the Nittany Lions finished 14th, giving up 324.5 yards per game. Under Pry's tutelage in 2014, the Penn State defense finished second in FBS in total defense, allowing just 278.7 yards per game, improving 46 spots from the 2013 season when the Lions finished 48th while giving up 381.3 yards per game. For his efforts, Pry was a finalist for 2014 Football Scoop's Linebackers Coach of the Year to continue the "Linebacker U." tradition. Mike Hull earned the Big Ten Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year award and eight All-America honors in 2014. Hull led the Big Ten with 140 tackles, tied for fourth in school season history.
Pry tutored the Vanderbilt linebackers and was co-defensive coordinator from 2011-13. The linebackers led the team in tackles-for-loss during each of Pry's three seasons at VU and he helped Chris Marve earn All-SEC accolades in 2011. While serving as defensive coordinator at Georgia Southern in 2010, the Eagles finished ninth in total defense (286.93), 11th in scoring defense (18.47) and 11th in passing defense (159.93). His defensive unit helped the Eagles to a win over No. 1 Appalachian State and an appearance in the NCAA FCS semifinals.
A member of the Memphis staff from 2007-09, Pry's defensive line corps helped the Tigers to back-to-back bowl appearances. He was also the defensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette (2002-06), boosting the Ragin' Cajuns to their first Sun Belt Conference championship. Pry's other coaching stops include Western Carolina (1998-01), Virginia Tech (1995-98), helping the Hokies to three bowl games as a graduate assistant, and East Stroudsburg (1993-94).
Pry graduated from Lexington (Va.) High School and played defensive back at University of Buffalo, earning his degree in history in 1993.
Penn State season ticket renewals and Nittany Lion Club membership renewals also are underway for the 2016 campaign. The ticket invoice and Nittany Lion Club renewal deadline is Feb. 1, 2016. There will not be any increase in the price of Penn State football season tickets or Nittany Lion Club donation levels for next season. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2016 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.