UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State head football coach James Franklin today announced the members of his first coaching staff, bringing together a unit with extensive collegiate experience, familiarity and strong recruiting ties to the Mid-Atlantic, South and Northeast regions of the United States.
Franklin's staff includes seven members of his former staff at Vanderbilt that were instrumental in the Commodores achieving unprecedented success the past two years, a coach who worked with Franklin at Maryland and Vanderbilt and one of the Penn State's greatest all-time receivers, who was a highly-successful high school coach in western Pennsylvania.
The 2014 Penn State football coaching staff:
- James Franklin, head coach;
- Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator/safeties coach;
- John Donovan, offensive coordinator/tight ends coach;
- Charles Huff, special teams coordinator/running backs coach;
- Brent Pry, assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach;
- Josh Gattis, offensive recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach;
- Herb Hand, run game coordinator/offensive line coach;
- Ricky Rahne, passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach;
- Terry Smith, defensive recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach;
- Sean Spencer, defensive line coach.
Seven of the assistant coaches were members of Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt the past two years, helping the Commodores to historic heights, including nine wins each in 2012 and 2013, two bowl victories and consecutive Top 25 finishes for the first time in program history. Huff was an offensive quality control coach in 2011 during Franklin's first season at VU and served with Franklin at Maryland in 2009. Smith is returning to his alma mater,
Every member of the coaching staff, including Franklin, an East Stroudsburg University alumnus, graduated from a college or university in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast.
Franklin also announced that Dwight Galt has been named Director of Performance Enhancement and will supervise the Nittany Lions' strength and conditioning regimen. Barry Gant, Jr. and Chuck Losey, former members of the Vanderbilt staff, have been named assistant strength and conditioning coaches. Brian Bell and Galt's son, Dwight Galt IV, will continue in their roles as assistant strength and conditioning coaches, having joined the Penn State staff in 2012.
"I am very pleased to bring to Penn State a staff of great family men, tremendous teachers and developers of talent, and the most aggressive recruiting staff in the country!" stated Franklin, a Langhorne, Pa. native who was named Penn State's 16th head football coach on Jan. 11.
In addition to Franklin, Shoop (Oakmont), Pry (Altoona) and Smith (Monroeville) are Pennsylvania natives, while Smith (Penn State) and Spencer (Clarion) also are graduates from universities in the Keystone State. Seven of the assistant coaches are natives of the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast.
Below are brief biographies on the members of Franklin's coaching staff announced today (in alphabetical order):
Donovan served as the offensive coordinator/running backs coach during three of the most productive offensive seasons in Vanderbilt history from 2011-13. Under Donovan's direction, Zac Stacy ran for 1,193 yards in 2011 and 1,141 yards in 2012 to become Vanderbilt's first player with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Stacy earned second team All-SEC honors and was a fifth round selection of the St. Louis Rams in 2012. Donovan's offensive units earned three of the top four total yardage marks in school history, gaining at least 4,400 yards each season, including a school record 4,936 yards in 2012. The Commodores 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 with another program record of 30.1 points per game in 2013. Franklin (offensive coordinator) and Donovan (running backs) worked together at Maryland from 2008-10, as well as from 2001-04, when Donovan was the assistant recruiting coordinator. Entering his 18th year in coaching, he began his coaching career at Georgia Tech (1998-2000) and Villanova (1997). From River Edge, N.J., Donovan graduated with a sociology degree from Johns Hopkins University, grabbing 12 interceptions during his career. He also owns a master's degree in economics from Georgia Tech.
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 140 receptions for 1,911 yards. White's totals broke the Western Michigan and Mid-American Conference records and he broke the MAC career receiving yardage record. Gattis joined Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt in 2012 and tutored Jordan Matthews to All-America honors the past two seasons. Matthews ended his career as the Southeastern Conference's career leader in receptions (262) and receiving yards (3,759), while also owning the SEC single-season mark 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 broke into coaching as a graduate assistant at North Carolina (2010) on the offensive coaching staff. He earned his degree in sociology from Wake Forest.
Hand is entering his 24th season in college coaching. He spent the last four seasons coaching the offensive line at Vanderbilt, adding run game coordinator duties in 2013. Last season, VU'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 (2007-09), serving as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and line coach, Hand helped the Golden Hurricanes lead the nation in total offense twice and earn consecutive GMAC Bowl appearances. He also coached at West Virginia (2001-06), Clemson (1999-2000), Concord College (1997-98), Glenville State College (1994-96) and West Virginia Wesleyan (1991-93). From Westmoreland, N.Y., Hand earned his bachelor's degree from Hamilton College; where he played on the offensive line for the Continentals. He earned a master's degree from West Virginia Wesleyan.
Huff was a versatile player at Hampton University, playing multiple positions on offense, which has assisted him during his eight-year coaching career in college and the NFL. He spent last season at Western Michigan as the running backs coach and helped the unit nearly double its rushing yards from 2012. The Broncos ran for 1,394 yards in 2013 after running for just 735 yards the year before. Huff spent the 2012 season with the Buffalo Bills as assistant running backs coach, helping 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 in 2012. Huff was a member of Franklin's 2011 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 and was the tight ends/special team's coach at Tennessee State (2007-08), working with NFL first round draft pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. From Denton, Md., Huff also coached at TSU in 2006, working with the offensive line coach.
A native of Altoona, Pa., 40 miles from State College, Pry's coaching career has spanned 21 years and began during Franklin's final two seasons as an All-PSAC quarterback at East Stroudsburg. Pry has helped each program he's coached at to success, including nine bowl appearances. A member of Franklin's staff the past three years, Pry tutored the Vanderbilt linebackers and served as co-defensive coordinator, and was promoted to assistant head coach in 2013. The linebackers led the team in tackles-for-loss during each of his three seasons at VU 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 NCAA FCS semifinals. A member of the Memphis staff from 2007-09, Pry's defensive line corps were among the best in Conference USA and helped the Tigers to back-to-back bowl appearances. He also coached at Louisiana-Lafayette (2002-06), helping the Ragin' Cajuns to their first Sun Belt Conference championship, Western Carolina (1998-01) and Virginia Tech (1995-98), helping the Hokies to three sbowl games as a graduate assistant, including a win in the 1995 Sugar Bowl. He coached the East Stroudsburg outside linebackers and defensive backs in 1993-94. Pry's father, Jim, has been a college football coach for more than 35 years and was Franklin's offensive coordinator at ESU. Brent Pry graduated from Lexington (Va.) High School and earned his bachelor's in education from University of Buffalo in 1993.
Rahne (Ron-E) made an impression on Franklin when they coached together Kansas State in 2006-07, joining the Vanderbilt staff as quarterbacks coach in 2011. His passing attacks helped wide receivers set SEC records and running backs post a pair of 1,000-yard seasons over the past three years. In 2012, Jordan Rogers threw for the fourth-highest yardage total in Vanderbilt history and logged the eighth-highest total offense yardage. In 2013, Austyn Carta-Samuels moved into the top-10 in Vanderbilt single-season history with 2,383 yards of total offense, despite missing three games. Rahne spent five seasons at Kansas State, serving as the offensive graduate assistant (2006), where he worked with quarterback Josh Freeman, helping him become a first round NFL draft choice. He also served as the Wildcats' running backs (2007-08) and tight ends coach (2009-10). He helped the Wildcats earn berths in the 2006 Texas Bowl and the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl. A former pupil, tight end Jeron Masturd, has spent the past three seasons with the NFL's Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. From Morrison, Colo., Rahne also spent time on the coaching staff at Cornell (2005) and Holy Cross (2004). A three-time team MVP while playing quarterback at Cornell, Rahne left the Ivy League school as the all-time leader in nearly every passing category. He graduated in 2002.
Shoop brings 25 years of collegiate coaching experience back to his home state. A native of Oakmont, Pa., Shoop spent the last three years at Vanderbilt as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach, helping the Commodores finish among the nation's Top 25 in total defense every season: 18th (2011), in 19th (2012) and 23rd (2013). Shoop's defense forced 31 turnovers last season, including 24 over the final eight games, boosting VU to a 6-2 finish, with a five-game winning streak to end the season. His 2012 unit held opponents to just 18.7 points per game, the lowest by a VU squad since 1997. Cornerback Casey Heyward, who grabbed seven interceptions in 2011 and is tied for the Vanderbilt career record with 15 interceptions, earned All-America and All-SEC honors as a senior. He is a standout cornerback for the Green Bay Packers after being drafted in the second round in 2012. Shoop also has coached at William & Mary (2007-10), Massachusetts (2006), Columbia (2003-05), Boston College (1999-2002), Army (1998), Villanova (1997), Yale (1989, 1994-96), Northeastern (1991-93) and Virginia (1990). Shoop played at Yale, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1988 after earning honorable mention All-Ivy League accolades as a receiver in 1987. Shoop is a member of the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
A standout wide receiver at Penn State from 1988-91, Smith returns to his alma mater 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 last fall. Robby Anderson's 791 receiving yards in 2013 ranked fifth on the Owls' single season list, which included a school-record 249 yards vs. SMU. A standout player at Gateway High School near Pittsburgh, Smith was a highly successful head coach at his alma mater from 2002-12, compiling a record of 101-30 and posting four WPIAL AAAA runner-up finishes. Smith was elected to the Gateway Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, after helping the Gators to the 1985 and 1986 WPIAL AAAA Championships as player. From Monroeville, Pa., 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. He made 108 receptions and 15 touchdown catches during his outstanding Penn State career from 1988-91. Smith earned his bachelor's from Penn State in 1991 and was selected by the Washington Redskins in the 1992 NFL Draft. Smith's stepson, Justin King, was a standout wide receiver and cornerback for the Nittany Lions from 2005-07 before matriculating to the NFL.
Spencer has experience on both sides of the ball during his 18 seasons as a collegiate coach, but he has been exclusively helping build strong defensive units since 2001. In three years on Franklin's staff at Vanderbilt, his defensive lines helped the Commodores finish in the Top 25 in total defense all three years. The Commodores increased their sack totals in 2011 and 2012, collecting 28 and 31, respectively, and posted 27 quarterback takedowns in 2013. 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. From Hartford, Conn., he had two stints at Massachusetts, coaching the defensive line in 2007-08 and in 2001-03, also coordinating the special teams during his second stint with the Minutemen. Spencer also has coached at Hofstra (2006), Villanova (2005), Holy Cross (2004), Trinity College (1998-2000) and Shippensburg (1996-97). A three-year starter at safety at Clarion (Pa.) University, Spencer earned his bachelor's degree in political science.
In 25 years at the collegiate level, Galt has helped produce numerous NFL prospects and nearly 40 former athletes he helped train are active in the National Football League. Galt worked with Franklin at Maryland, where he spent 22 years, before joining him at Vanderbilt in 2011. Many 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 NFL Scouting 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 wideout in more than a decade. Galt worked with ACC Championship football teams in 1984 and 1985, and also was the conditioning coach for the Terps' men's basketball program. A native of Silver Spring, Md., Galt earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Maryland. His son, Dwight, is in his third year at Penn State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the football program.
Season ticket renewals are underway online and Nittany Lion Club members are reminded that the deadline for donations is February 1. There again was no increase in season tickets prices for Penn State football for the 2014 season. New season tickets are available by calling 1-800-NITTANY, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Coach Franklin and the Nittany Lions open the season on Aug. 30 vs. UCF in Dublin, Ireland at the Croke Park Classic. Penn State returns 15 starters (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist) and will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. The Nittany Lions will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall.
--Penn State Athletic Communications