There’s an opening for Penn State’s tight end coach which means this is a perfect opportunity for a big board. You’ll see some familiar names on here that I’ve brought up in the past (I am legally required to mention Brennan Marion every coaching search), but the wrinkle with this job is that Bowen is also leaving behind a co-OC gig. That’s pretty important, as it makes this role even more attractive (see: higher salary) than it already was.
JaMarcus Shepard, 37 years old, Purdue (Co-OC/Wide Receivers)
Prying away assistant coaches for lateral moves is tough, as Shepard would hold essentially the same title here. The upside for Shepard though is clear: Penn State is the better program, and like Sowder, the idea of becoming the offensive coordinator in 2-3 years when Yurcich moves on for his own head coaching job could be enticing.
Shepard very well could be happy at Purdue though. He’s been with Brohm since their Western Kentucky days, and Shepard clearly isn’t struggling to bring in top-tier wide receivers: Rondale Moore and David Bell say hello.
Andrew Sowder, 32 years old, Kent State (Offensive Coordinator)
If you pay attention to James Franklin’s twitter follows, Franklin and Sowder traded follows back during the season. Now granted, not every Franklin follow leads to a coach being hired, but as evidenced last year by Phil Trautwein, sometimes they can point to a future staff member.
Sowder’s resume is impressive, having served as Kent State’s offensive coordinator the last three seasons. During that time, Sowder has helped overhaul the Golden Flashes offense to be one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. If Sowder makes the move to Happy Valley, it wouldn’t be surprising if he follows a Rahne-esque path — serve as the tight end coach for a couple of seasons, before eventually taking over as the offensive coordinator.
Marques Hagans, 38 years old, Virginia (Wide Receivers)
One of the best recruiters in the country, Hagans has manned a spot on the Virginia coaching staff since 2011, first serving as a GA before taking over the wide receivers in 2013. He has deep ties in the talent-rich Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which is why he’s constantly brought up for other SEC, ACC, and Big Ten jobs.
Nathan Scheelhaase, 30 years old, Iowa State (Wide Receivers)
Scheelhaase just turned 30 this past November, but he’s been a staple on 247’s “30-under-30” lists for years now. He’s a fantastic recruiter, and whether it was at running back or wide receivers, his position groups have exceeded expectations in Ames. He’ll be a head coach within the next decade.
Fontel Mines, 35 years old, East Carolina (Tight Ends/Inside Receivers)
He’s from Richmond, Virginia. UVA graduate who played tight end with the Chicago Bears for three seasons. Has coached wide receivers or tight ends at Richmond, Delaware, James Madison, and now East Carolina. I mean, that sounds like a heck of a candidate, right? Perhaps Mines isn’t ready for a co-OC tag, but Mines checks a lot of the boxes.
Andrew Breiner, 36 years old, Philadelphia Eagles (Pass Game Analyst)
Joe Moorhead’s pupil is currently out of a job after coaching under Doug Pederson this season. Breiner is a smart guy who has a ton of ties to the Northeast, having been the head coach at Fordham for two season from 2016-2017. Not sure he’d be the ideal fit with Mike Yurcich though.
Adam Breneman, 25 years old, Arizona State (Tight Ends)
Breneman started his coaching career this past year as a graduate assistant at Arizona State. He obviously must have been very good at his job as Herm Edwards elevated him to tight ends coach just a few weeks ago. Like Mines, but on an even greater scale, Breneman isn’t ready to be a co-OC — I mean, he was a podcast host just two years ago. Going from Arizona State GA to Penn State co-OC in a matter of one year just isn’t going to happen. But if Franklin looks at this from the perspective of hiring just a tight end coach, Breneman would make a bit more sense.
Brennan Marion, 33 years old, Hawaii (Wide Receivers)
As always, I am here to mention Brennan Marion as a candidate. He left his post as William & Mary’s offensive coordinator to become Hawaii’s wide receiver coach, linking back up with his college coach Todd Graham. Why would he make sense for Penn State? He has strong ties in PA and the DMV, and his unique “Go-Go” offense has put him on the radar for a number of jobs.