I'll be honest: I expected the voting for the inaugural BSD Reader Awards Coach of the Year to be WAY closer than it ended up being. This doesn't mean that the person who won the award wasn't deserving -- he absolutely earned this honor -- but all three candidates were worthy of the title (which is being called the Jay Paterno Award for Excellence in Coaching, but we're gonna work on the name).
Without further adieu, here is how the voting turned out for the Position Coach of the Year Award:
- Winner: Sean Spencer, Defensive Line (58 percent of the vote)
- Second Place: Brent Pry, Linebackers (22 percent)
- Third Place: Terry Smith, Cornerbacks (19 percent)
This is kinda surprising, no? Pry did an amazing job coaching up the linebackers and turning: A) Mike Hull into a wrecking ball, B) Nyeem Wartman and Brandon Bell into irreplaceable parts of the defense and, C) guys like Gary Wooten and Jason Cabinda into valuable players who provided depth. Smith took a bunch of freshman and guys not named "Jordan Lucas" and turned the corners into an incredibly strong unit. You can argue that no group on PSU's defense made a bigger jump from last year than the corners.
However, Spencer did an excellent job turning Penn State's defensive line into one of the most destructive fronts in the nation. Just look at the various elements of it. Up the middle, Austin Johnson and Anthony Zettel were arguably the best DT duo in the Big Ten, and one of the best in America. This was despite Johnson being redshirt sophomore with limited experience and Zettel being a converted defensive end. That's a huge reflection of how good of a coach Spencer was in 2014.
Not only that, but on the outside, C.J. Olaniyan had a really nice season, while Deion Barnes bounced back from a putrid 2013 and turned himself into a terror off the edge. There was also some serious depth all along the line, with guys like Parker Cothren, Garrett Sickels, Brad Bars, Carl Nassib and Tarow Barney making plenty of contributions throughout the year.
As for recruiting, Coach Chaos is killing it. He's the 15th best recruiter in the Big Ten, per 24/7, and has pulled in several major recruits in the class of 2015. His entire 2015 list is composed of four-star running back Saquon Barkley, four-star athlete Kamonte Carter, four-star defensive end Ryan Buchholz, three-star tight end Jonathan Holland and three-star safety Jarvis Miller. However, his most impressive recruit is in the class of 2016 in five-star defensive end Shane Simmons.
So congratulations, coach Spencer! Check your mailbox, you should get your trophy sometime in the next 6-8 weeks. It is paid for by the Black Shoe Diaries staff, we hope you enjoy!*
* -- NOTE: there is no trophy and we are yelling at Bill for getting coach's hopes up