After a spate of coaching staff changes since November including the departure of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and running backs coach Charles Huff to Mississippi State, and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis for Alabama, Penn State has settled down with new coaches for 2018.
What do we really know about Penn State’s newest staff members? And how will their experience and connections help PSU performance on the field and on the recruiting trail?
Read our first of a series of two articles on the Nittany Lions’ latest coaching additions starting with Ja’Juan Seider and David Corley.
Ja’Juan Seider, Running Backs Coach
Joining the Nittany Lions in February 2018 from the same role at the University of Florida, Ja’Juan Seider brings 10 years of coaching experience and a reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters.
Seider coached running backs for the past four years, first at Florida where he guided a pair of 500-yard rushers with 13 touchdowns, then previously at West Virginia, where he started his collegiate playing career as a quarterback. For the Mountaineers, Seider coached Wendell Smallwood who in 2015 led the Big 12 with 1,518 yards.
His other West Virginia ties include three years as the running back coach and recruiting coordinator at Marshall, where the team won the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in 2011 and where he recruited quarterback Rakeem Cato, the 2012 Conference USA Player of the year.
Seider also spent seven years as a Florida high school football coach in running back, quarterback, and offensive coordinator roles. His Florida ties run deeper than that: a Florida native, Seider finished up his college career his senior season at Florida A&M.
With most of his experience as a running back coach, and as the top 30 recruiter (as ranked by 247 Sports), Franklin’s made a great hire in Seider, clearly expanding the recruiting net further into Florida territory.
What Players and Coaches Have to Say
Senior running back Johnathan Thomas, after the Blue White Game, shared what he’d noticed so far about how Seider had started to build trust with the unit.
Offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, in the last minutes of this Blue White Illustrated interview, noted that Seider’s experience in the spread offense for a long time had been invaluable, and that his quarterback experience helps him out quite a bit “… not just with the quarterbacks, but as a whole since everything goes through the quarterback in this offense.”
Hear more from Ja Juan about the development of his running back squad so far this spring in this GoPSUSports video here.
With deep ties to Florida, Seider is a strong asset in recruiting his home state, rich with talent, pointing to a shift in James Franklin’s focus. Franklin has seen success in that state recently with two highly-touted 2018 Florida recruits: defensive lineman Judge Culpepper and corner Jordan Miner.
While at Florida, he recruited four star tight end Kyle Pitts from Warminster, PA for the Gators, giving him some clout in the Keystone State.
Seider’s success also led him to be ranked one of the top recruiters for 2018 (#41) and a current ranking at #30 on 247 Sports’ top recruiter list for 2019, aided by landing four-star running back Devyn Ford from Stafford, VA for the Nittany Lions. With that kind of success, it will be exciting to see how his experience pays off for the Nittany Lions.
Seider also has connections in West Virginia and in Pennsylvania through past recruiting roles. He’s currently assigned to the Erie and Virginia Tidewater region (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond). With his clout in Virginia after landing Devyn Ford, he could have great success recruiting four star back Chris Tyree from Thomas Dale High School in Chester, VA (Richmond area).
David Corley, Wide Receivers Coach
David Corley interviewed for the wide receivers job at Vanderbilt five years ago under James Franklin, who chose Josh Gattis instead. Obviously, Corley nailed his second chance, and was initially hired as the running back coach in January. He then moved to the wide receiver coach position when Ja’Juan Seider was named the coach for the running back unit.
Corley most recently coached Army’s wide receiver unit in 2017, where the Black Knights enjoyed their second straight bowl win and tied the school record with 10 wins.
Before Army, he served as running back coach, wide receiver coach, special teams coordinator and director of player engagement for the University of Connecticut for several seasons. There he coached Arkeel Newsome to more than 1,400 all-purpose yards and served as the offensive coordinator for the final month of the season.
Corley spent six seasons on staff at his alma mater, William & Mary, as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator in 2013, and the quarterbacks coach from 2010-12. Interestingly enough, former Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop was also on the W&M staff from 2007 to 2010.
Corley was a four-year starter at quarterback for William & Mary and also has ties to North Carolina, his home state.
What Players and Coaches Have to Say
Penn State senior wide receiver Brandon Polk, in an interview after the Blue-White game, said he felt that coach Corley’s strengths are his knowledge of the game. “He’s helped us figure out what we need to do reading wise and just route running and different aspects that help us out in the game,” commented Polk.
Corley’s William & Mary experience and strong ties to the Tidewater region of Virginia (Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Richmond) Corley will be an asset recruiting the commonwealth. He’ll also be covering recruiting for northern New Jersey and Atlanta and said in a February media conference call that he’s finding lots of connections with his new recruiting area.
So far, it’s working well.
Corley recently helped snag two huge pieces of the future Nittany Lions offense: five star running back Ricky Slade from Woodbridge, VA (Northern VA) and four star wide receiver Daniel George from Oxon Hill, MD, big gets for the Nittany Lions. Those recruiting wins can give Corley and the Nittany Lions an edge when recruiting targets like four star wide receiver John Metchie from Hagerstown, MD.
Be sure to check back with Black Shoe Diaries for the second part of this article on new coaches Tyler Bowen and Phil Galiano.