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Coaching Hot Board: Penn State Special Teams Coordinator

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Fire it up, folks.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Boston College at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Joe Lorig is off to Oregon in a move that makes sense once you understand the ties. Lorig is originally from Washington. He graduated from Western Oregon University in 1995 and 1997. He coached and lived exclusively west of the Mississippi River his entire life until 2016 when he came to Memphis. So while it’s a lateral move to go from Penn State to Oregon, it’s also a move back to his roots.

The Nittany Lions will certainly miss Lorig, who came to Happy Valley in 2019 and really turned around a special teams unit that struggled mightily in 2018. But with Lorig out, it gives James Franklin the chance to shape up the staff once again. There are three factors to look for here when it comes to who will be hired:

  1. Previous special teams coaching experience
  2. Defensive assistant capabilities, either for the defensive line or linebackers (Lorig coached OLBs, while Galiano coached DL)
  3. Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting

Ideally, you hire someone who checks off all three boxes.


NAME: BEN ALBERT
SCHOOL: DUKE (2021 — let go)
POSITION: CO-DC & DL COACH

Shooting for the very top with this one, but you want to talk about someone who checks all three boxes, Albert fits the bill. First and foremost, he was let go at Duke with Mike Elko coming in, so he is available. But more importantly than that, his resume is as impressive as they come. He has STs coordinator experience — granted it was from 2002-2004 — at UMass and Richmond. He’s coached linebackers and the defensive line over the last 15 years at Delaware, Temple, Boston College, and Duke. Albert is also a strong recruiter, being responsible for Duke landing two of its 12 four-stars the program has ever signed.

The question is: would Albert basically take a demotion to come to Penn State? The co-defensive coordinator tag was one thing, but even going from DL coach to STs coordinator and say defensive ends coach isn’t a move you see quite often — especially considering the fact that Albert will likely have no issue getting a full DL coach job at another Power 5 school. So realistic? Probably not, but if the

NAME: TRIPP WEAVER
SCHOOL: EAST CAROLINA
POSITION: SAFETIES COACH

I’ve mentioned Weaver’s name in the past for the vacant safeties job, but he’d fit in nicely as a STs coordinator too. Young guy (31 years old) who has climbed the coaching ranks very quickly, having previously served as Western Carolina’s defensive coordinator. With East Carolina, Weaver is primarily the safeties coach, but his profile does indicate that he “significantly contributed” to the Pirates’ special teams.

NAME: OLA ADAMS
SCHOOL: VILLANOVA
POSITION: DC & SECONDARY COACH

Might be a little too late here with Adams reportedly off to Temple as co-DC and safeties coach, but Adams is a rising star in the coaching industry, as Penn State fans saw when Villanova came to Beaver Stadium earlier this year. The Wildcats didn’t quite have the athletes in the secondary to keep up with Penn State, but Adams’ Nova defense was otherwise well-coached. Add in his recruiting ties having been at Villanova for nearly a decade, and Adams would be a really intriguing hire.

NAME: JONATHAN PATKE
SCHOOL: MIAMI (2021 — let go)
POSITION: SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR & OLB COACH

Perhaps the coach that makes the most sense given his ties to Manny Diaz, Patke actually held the same role Lorig did here for Diaz at Miami: STs coordinator and outside linebacker coach. If Franklin wants an experienced STs coordinator and is wanting to give Diaz a familiar face to help coach linebackers with, Patke is an obvious choice for the job.

NAME: KEVIN SMITH
SCHOOL: OLD DOMINION
POSITION: SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR & OLB COACH

Sticking with the “familiar faces” theme, Smith was a graduate assistant here at Penn State for three years before departing with Rahne after the 2019 season. Obviously, Smith is a young guy who probably would need a couple more seasons before Franklin would be interested in having him return to Penn State. But as far as former GAs go, Smith fits the bill.

NAME: MATT THURIN
SCHOOL: BOSTON COLLEGE
POSITION: SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR & ASST. SAFETIES COACH

Another coach on the younger side (he’ll be 38 this June), Thurin has an attractive resume. He spent five seasons on Ohio State’s staff from 2015-2019 as a defensive quality control coach before getting a full-time on-the-field gig with Boston College and Jeff Hafley in 2020. The Eagles’ special teams have made nice strides during Thurin’s tenure, going from the 103rd ranked unit in 2019 to the 73rd ranked unit in 2021, according to Football Outsiders.

NAME: WAYNE LINEBURG
SCHOOL: WAKE FOREST
POSITION: SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR & TEs COACH

One of the older names on this list, Lineburg has an extensive coaching history in the Virginia area with stops at William & Mary, UVA, and Richmond from 1996-2013. He then left to go UConn from 2014-2016, where he coached with current Penn State staff member Anthony Poindexter. For the past four seasons, Lineburg has been with Wake Forest where he’s really turned around the special teams. Just two years ago, the Demon Deacons 116th ranked special teams — they bounced all the way up to 19th in 2021, according to Football Outsiders.