After losing Stacy Collins to Boise State last Friday, James Franklin worked swiftly to find his replacement. It took just three days, in fact, with Penn State set to hire Vanderbilt special teams coordinator and associate head coach Justin Lustig, according to a report from Matt Zenitz of 247Sports.
Penn State is expected to hire Vanderbilt tight ends coach, special teams coach and associate head coach Justin Lustig, sources tell @247sports.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) January 16, 2024
Former Broyles nominee who has worked at Vandy the last three seasons.https://t.co/dJORJ80Uo5 pic.twitter.com/l3Aea2z8PL
In addition to Lustig’s special teams coordinator and associate head coach title, he was also the Commodores’ tight ends coach. It remains to be seen what additional titles he’ll have at Penn State, but Stacy Collins and Joe Lorig helped with the linebackers for Brent Pry and Manny Diaz. That could be the case for Lustig as well under Tom Allen, though Lustig has exclusively coached offensive skill positions since 2006. We’ll learn more on that in the coming days.
Lustig might be a familiar name for Penn State fans, as he’s been rumored to be a potential coaching staff candidate dating back to the O’Brien days. He has strong ties to the region, having been born in Erie and playing his college ball (as a safety) at Bucknell. He also coached at Villanova (2003), Ball State (2011-2015), Edinoboro (head coach in 2016), and Syracuse (2017-2020) prior to his time in Nashville, so plenty of local/Big Ten connections.
It should be no surprise given his resume, but Lustig is lauded as one of the best special teams gurus in the country. He was a Broyles Award nominee in 2018 at Syracuse, and has had extremely productive special teams units despite having less talent than the opposition. Vanderbilt finished No. 41 and No. 44 the last two seasons in ESPN’s Special Teams Efficiency ranking, a big jump from outside the Top 100 like the Commodores were prior to Lustig’s arrival.