Penn State Hires New Special Teams Coordinator

Nittany Nation
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Penn State athletics announced the hiring of a new special teams coordiantor Thursday.

The Nittany Lions have hired Joe Lorig to leads its specialty units. According to a media release from Penn State’s Athletic Department, Lorig last coached three seasons at Memphis as a special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach.

He had been named the special teams coordinator at Texas Tech before taking the job at Penn State.

Lorig has 22 years of coaching experience in college – six of those as a special teams coordinator.

He replaces Phil Galiano who left for a special teams job with the New Orleans Saints about one week ago.

Below is the full release courtesy of Penn State Athletics:

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.Penn State Football Head CoachJames Franklin announced the addition of Joe Lorig to the coaching staff as the special teams coordinator and defensive assistant. Lorig spent the last three seasons at Memphis as the special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. Following the 2018 season, he joined the Texas Tech staff as special teams coordinator.


“We are looking forward to having Joe join our staff,” Franklin said. “We conducted a comprehensive study of special teams coordinators across the country to find the best fit for our staff and identified Joe as the best candidate. His special teams units have a history of being among the best in the countryand we know he can continue that success here. I have also known Joe for many years, dating back to when we worked together at Idaho State under Larry Lewis.”


“I am extremely excited to join the staff at Penn State University and begin working with such a storied program,” Lorig said. “Penn State is a program with outstanding players, coaches and tradition. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Franklin and his entire coaching staff. My wife, three children and I are very appreciative of the opportunity to join the Nittany Lion family, and we look forward to helping Penn State win championships!”


Lorig has 22 years of collegiate coaching experience, including six seasons as a special teams coordinator and eight years as a defensive coordinator. 


In his three seasons at Memphis as the special team coordinator and outside linebackers coach, Lorig’s special teams unit finished in the top 5 in FBS in kick return average twice and in the top 20 in kick return defense every year. In addition, the Tigers did not allow a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown in three years under Lorig. As the outside linebackers coach, Lorig’s group helped the Tigers force 81 turnovers in a three-year span, which was fourth nationally in the FBS.


Under Lorig’s tutelage, Memphis’ Tony Pollard became one of the nation’s top kick returners with a school-record and FBS-record-tying seven kickoffs returned for a touchdown in his career, including four returns for scores in 2017. Pollard was selected as the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Special Teams Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017 and was a first-team All-American in 2017. In addition to tying the FBS record for kick return touchdowns, Pollard is among the FBS’s career leaders in kickoff return average (30.1).


In Lorig’s first season in Memphis, the Tigers had three kickoff returns for touchdowns, snapping a 21-year drought for a kickoff return touchdowns, which was believed to be the longest such streak in FBS history. Memphis led the AAC and finished in the top 10 nationally in kickoff return defense (2nd in FBS, 16.04), kickoff return average (5th, 26.57) and net punting (8th, 41.10) in 2016. Kicker Jake Elliott was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award with 21 field goals and a perfect 58-for-58 effort on extra point attempts.


Lorig led the Tiger special teams squad to another stellar season in 2017. Memphis finished fourth in the country and led the American in kickoff return average (26.02), while coming in No. 14 in FBS and No. 2 in the AAC in kickoff return defense (17.75). Memphis also finished No. 24 in the nation in punt return defense (4.60) and No. 2 in the American Athletic Conference in net punting (39.48). Punter Spencer Smith earned first-team All-AAC honors for his efforts.


In 2018, Memphis finished No. 16 nationally and No. 2 in the AAC in kickoff return defense, allowing just 17.88 yards per return.


Lorig spent two seasons at Utah State as the linebackers coach in 2014 and the safeties coach in 2015. During his time at USU, the Aggies made a pair of bowl appearances and posted the second-most wins in program history with a 10-4 mark in 2014. Lorig mentored a pair of All-Mountain West first team honorees in Zach and Nick Vigil. Zach Vigil was selected as the 2014 Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was a second-team USA Today All-American after posting 156 tackles and 20.5 tackles for loss.


Utah State was among the stingiest defenses in the country during Lorig’s tenure, ranking 11th in forced turnovers (30), 12th in scoring defense (19.7 points per game), 24th in rushing defense (130.7 yards per game) and 30th in total defense (356.1 yards per game) in 2014, and then finished 2015 11th in fumble recoveries (12), 13th in passing yards (180.5 yards per game) and 19th in total defense (332.5 yards per game).


Lorig was the special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Arizona State for two seasons, prior to moving to Utah State. During his time at ASU, punter Josh Hubner earned All-America honors in 2012 and kicker Zane Gonzalez was a Freshman All-American in 2013. Hubner set the school record with a 47.1 punting average in 2012 to lead the Pac-12 and rank second nationally.


Lorig also spent four seasons as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Central Washington (2008-11), where he helped the Wildcats win three Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles and two NCAA appearances. He was named the Division II Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) following the 2010 season and was a finalist for’s Division II Coordinator of the Year in 2009.


Among the other stops in Lorig’s coaching career were one season as the linebackers coach at UTEP (2007), eight seasons at Idaho State (2003-06, defensive coordinator; 2001-02, linebackers; 1999-2000 cornerbacks) and two seasons as the secondary coach at Western Oregon (1997-98). Lorig and Franklin spent the 1999 season together at Idaho State under head coach and current Penn State football analyst and analytics coordinator Larry Lewis.


As a student-athlete, Lorig was a two-time All-Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges selection at Walla Walla Community College. He then transferred to Western Oregon to complete his playing career. He served as a team captain his final season.


A native of Edmonds, Washington, Lorig earned his bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from Western Oregon in 1995 and his master’s in correction administration in 1997.


Lorig and his wife, Becky, have one son, Tyler, and two daughters, Jordan and Emma.


For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and reserving new season tickets for the 2019 Penn State Football season presented by PSECU, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 9 a.m-4:30 p.m.


More than 2,600 new season tickets have already been sold for the 2019 campaign.

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