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Minnesota's Matt Limegrover to Replace Herb Hand as Penn State's Offensive Line Coach

It did not take long for James Franklin to find his next offensive line coach.

via 247Sports
via 247Sports
Minnesota Golden Gophers assistant head coach and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover will be Penn State's new offensive line coach, according to a release sent out by GoPSUSports. This news comes on the heels of Herb Hand's departure to take the same job with the Auburn Tigers.

"We are really excited to have Matt join our staff," Franklin said. "He is another Pennsylvania guy, born and raised in Pittsburgh, so he is very familiar with Penn State and this region. He brings a wealth of knowledge and a ton of great experience, both as an offensive line coach and as an offensive coordinator. The numbers that his offenses have put up speak for themselves. As great of a coach as Matt is, he is an even better man; he cares about people, cares about education and cares about the community. We are looking forward to having Matt, his wife, Ann, and their children, Emma and T.J., join our Penn State Football family."

"I am both humbled and honored to join Coach Franklin’s staff and coach at Penn State," Limegrover said. "Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I have been a Penn State fan my entire life and to now have the opportunity to coach there is overwhelming. I can’t wait to get there and start working on building an offensive line to help this program become a championship team."

Hand had been Penn State's offensive line coach for the previous two seasons, having come to State College along with Franklin in January 2014. The unit had been much-maligned throughout his two years, but it was always difficult to tell how much coaching had an impact due to the lack of talent and depth in the unit. After an offer to join his friend Gus Malzahn at Auburn, Hand left the program two days ago.

Limegrover had been the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at Minnesota since 2011. He added assistant head coach to his title in 2014, and after this season, Limegrover was fired by new Gophers head coach Tracy Claeys as Claeys wanted someone who better fit what he envisioned for the offense.

Prior to that, Limegrover had been OC/OL coach at Northern Illinois (2008-10) and Southern Illinois (2001-07). As a player, Limegrover was an offensive lineman at the University of Chicago from 1987-90. He became a coach for UC while continuing to work on his degree, even taking over as interim head coach in 1994. He then went to Northwestern as a graduate assistant while working on his Master's degree in 1995 and 1996, before taking jobs at Ferris State and Emporia for two years each, leading into his time at Southern Illinois.

On a personal level, Limegrover is a native of Pittsburgh, and went to the same high school as Penn State's new offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead. He also has a pair of Big Ten Championships from his time as a graduate assistant in Evanston.

As of this moment, Penn State's offensive line will return four starters in 2016, with Andrew Nelson, Paris Palmer, Brendan Mahon, and Brian Gaia all slated to return. It also could return two additional guys who started at times over the last few years in Wendy Laurent and Derek Dowrey. Those two along with Gaia could potentially leave Penn State after picking up their degrees prior to next season or go the graduate transfer route.

However, the hope is that redshirt freshmen like Ryan Bates and Steven Gonzalez, or even perhaps a true freshman like Connor McGovern or Michal Menet, will be ready and able to contribute early on. With some of the young talent incoming, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of the offensive line.

Penn State still has an open position on the staff at safeties coach in the wake of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's departure, so there will be more news to come on the coaching front. For now, welcome to Happy Valley, coach Limegrover.