Penn State Nittany Lions Coaching Staff

The Penn State Nittany Lions coaching staff is once again led by James Franklin, and his 2023 staff is excited about the potential of their team this season.

After years of building highly competitive rosters and coming off of a Rose Bowl victory over Utah in 2022, Penn State has many fans hopeful about them winning the Big Ten in 2023.

With such a talented roster playing in Happy Valley, it’s up to the coaching staff to help guide and develop these players. Who is on the Penn State coaching staff?

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Penn State Nittany Lions Coaching Staff

Head Coach: James Franklin

After a four-year playing career as a quarterback at East Stroudsburg, James Franklin began his coaching career as the wide receivers coach at Kutztown University in 1995 and was a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater East Stroudsburg in 1996, working with the secondary.

Franklin would then serve as the wide receivers coach at James Madison in 1997, a graduate assistant at Washington State in 1998, and the wide receivers coach at Idaho State in 1999. In 2000, Franklin was named the wide receivers coach at Maryland and stayed there until he leaped to the NFL as the wide receivers coach for the Packers in 2005, coaching Donald Driver.

Franklin returned to the college level, becoming Kansas State’s offensive coordinator in 2006 and 2007. There, he coached Josh Freeman and Jordy Nelson on his way to helping Kansas State to its first winning season in four years. Afterward, Franklin returned to Maryland in 2008 as the Terps’ assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

Franklin coached at Maryland until 2010 when he was hired as the head coach at Vanderbilt. Franklin directed Vanderbilt to consecutive top-25 finishes for the first time in program history and took Vanderbilt to three consecutive bowl games. After three successful seasons at Vanderbilt, Franklin became the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions.

As the head coach at Penn State, Franklin has helped Penn State to a conference championship, four New Year’s Six bowls, and has an 81-36 record.

Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: Manny Diaz

Manny Diaz has a long and successful career as a defensive coordinator, producing some of college football’s best defenses and players across his multiple stops. Diaz started as a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1998-99 before coaching at NC State in the same capacity from 2000-01. Diaz worked his way up to coaching linebackers at NC State in 2002 before becoming the Wolfpack’s special teams coordinator/safeties coach in 2005.

Diaz then took over as the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State from 2006-09 before jumping to the SEC as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator in 2010 under Dan Mullen. Diaz then joined Mack Brown’s staff at Texas from 2011-13 after Will Muschamp’s departure, where he coached first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro.

After Mack Brown’s time at Texas ended, Diaz served as the defensive coordinator for Louisiana Tech, who led the country in takeaways that year. Diaz spent a year there before returning to Mississippi State as their defensive coordinator in 2015.

In 2016, Diaz was tasked with turning around the Miami Hurricanes’ defense and was successful, transforming the defense from one of the worst in the Power 5 to a top-25 unit across multiple metrics. Diaz’s tenure as defensive coordinator led to him being named the head coach of the Hurricanes in 2019. After a 21-15 record as a head coach, Diaz was fired and subsequently joined the Penn State Nittany Lions coaching staff.

Diaz’s full coaching resume can be found here:

  • Florida State (Graduate Assistant, 1998-99)
  • NC State (Graduate Assistant, 2000-01; Linebackers, 2002-03; Safeties/Special Teams Coordinator, 2004-05)
  • Middle Tennessee State (Defensive Coordinator/Safeties, 2006-07; Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2008-09)
  • Mississippi State (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2010)
  • Texas (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2011-13)
  • Louisiana Tech (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2014)
  • Mississippi State (Defensive Coordinator, 2015)
  • Miami (FL): (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2016-18; Head Coach, 2019-21)
  • Penn State: (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2022-Present)

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Mike Yurcich

Mike Yurcich got started by coaching running backs for Saint Francis in Indiana in 1999 before becoming quarterbacks coach in 2000 and offensive coordinator in 2002. Yurcich would join the Indiana Hoosiers staff in 2003 as a graduate assistant, spending two years there before becoming the quarterbacks coach at Edinboro in 2005.

Yurcich became Edinboro’s offensive coordinator in 2006, where he stayed until taking the same job at DII school Shippensburg. At Shippensburg University, Yurcich coached a unit that led the NCAA Division II in total offense in 2012 and was second in scoring offense and passing. Quarterback Zach Zulli won the 2012 Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II.

Yurcich was quickly poached straight up to the Power 5 level, becoming the offensive coordinator of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in 2013. There, Yurcich served as the architect of several productive offenses and coached a handful of NFL players such as Tyreek Hill, Mason Rudolph, Chris Carson, and Tylan Wallace.

Yurcich stayed at Oklahoma State before taking the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator role at Ohio State in 2019. Yurcich would quickly return to the Big 12 the following year, this time as Texas’ offensive coordinator. After Tom Herman was fired at the end of the 2020 season, Yurcich became Penn State’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.

Yurcich’s full coaching resume can be found here:

  • Saint Francis (Running Backs, 1999; Quarterbacks, 2000-01; Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2002)
  • Indiana (Graduate Assistant, 2003-04)
  • Edinboro (Quarterbacks, 2005; Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2006-10)
  • Shippensburg (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2011-12)
  • Oklahoma State (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2013-18)
  • Ohio State (Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator, 2019)
  • Texas (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2020)
  • Penn State (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2021-Present)

Special Teams Coordinator/Outside Linebackers/Nickels: Stacy Collins

Stacy Collins enters his second season with the Nittany Lions, bringing over two decades of special teams coaching experience. Collins began coaching at Western Oregon in 1998 before coaching in Europe. Collins coached three Austrian Football League championship seasons for the Vienna Vikings, now members of the European Federation of American Football, as their defensive coordinator.

Collins would serve in various defensive and special teams roles all throughout the early 2000s, stopping at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 2002, Western Washington in 2003 and 2004, Idaho State in 2005, Southern Oregon in 2007, Central Washington in 2008, and Portland State in 2011 before becoming the head coach of the South Dakota Mines Hardrockers in 2012. Collins led the Hardrockers to two winning seasons as head coach.

Collins then joined the FBS level as Utah State’s special teams coordinator and also coached running backs and linebackers for the Aggies in his four seasons there. Collins mentored All-American kicker Dominic Eberle as well as the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, David Woodward. Collins spent one year at Boise State as their special teams coordinator before taking the same role at Penn State in 2022.

Assistant Head Coach/Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running backs coach: Ja’Juan Seider

Ja’Juan Seider is in his sixth season as the running backs coach at Penn State. Seider started his collegiate playing career at West Virginia University, before transferring to Florida A&M for his senior season, where he would earn the Doug Williams Award for National Offensive Player of the Year award. Seider was drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2000 NFL Draft.

After his playing career ended, Seider spent seven years coaching high school football in Florida before returning to West Virginia as a graduate assistant in 2008. Seider would go on to coach the running backs at Marshall in 2010, coaching Freshman of the Year Kevin Grooms. Seider returned to West Virginia in the same role in 2013.

At West Virginia, Seider mentored Wendell Smallwood and Charles Sims as running backs. His success at West Virginia earned him the running backs coach job at Florida in 2017, coaching Malik Davis to SEC All-Freshman honors that year. Florida was Seider’s last stop before joining the Penn State coaching staff.

At Penn State, Seider has coached second-round pick Miles Sanders as well as other talented running backs in Nicholas Singleton, Kaytron Allen, and Journey Brown.

Associate Head Coach/Defensive Recruiting Coordinator/Cornerbacks: Terry M. Smith

Smith is in his 10th year coaching cornerbacks for the Penn State Nittany Lions. A Penn State alum, Smith played receiver for the Nittany Lions in the 80s before spending time in the CFL. Smith started coaching at the high school level in 1996 as an assistant coach for Hempfield High School.

Smith became the passing game coordinator for Duquesne from 1997 to 2000 before becoming the offensive coordinator and subsequently the head coach for Gateway High School in 2001. Smith served as the head coach at Gateway from 2003 to 2012 before accepting a job as the wide receivers coach at Temple University. Smith coached wide receiver Robbie Chosen at Temple.

After just a year coaching receivers at Temple, James Franklin hired Smith to his initial Penn State staff to serve as his cornerbacks coach, a role he still holds to this day. Smith has been in charge of Penn State’s defensive recruiting since 2014 as well. Smith has produced several NFL prospects at Penn State such as Amani Oruwariye, Joey Porter Jr., John Reid, and the upcoming Kalen King.

Offensive Recruiting Coordinator/Wide Receivers: Marques Hagans

Hagans made his name as a quarterback for the Virginia Cavaliers before being drafted as a receiver by the St. Louis Rams in 2006. Hagans spent time with the Rams before going to Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Washington and then returning to college football with Virginia as a graduate assistant in 2011. After two seasons as a graduate assistant, Hagans was named the Cavaliers’ wide receivers coach in 2013.

Hagans held onto that role from 2013 to 2022. At Virginia, Hagans coached 10 of the top-15 leaders in career receptions in program history. Hagans mentored receiver Olamide Zaccheaus to become the program’s all-time receptions leader with 250 catches. 2023 is Hagans’ first year on the Penn State coaching staff.

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends: Ty Howle

A former standout offensive lineman for the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2009-13, Howle enters 2023 in his third season as Penn State’s tight ends coach and fourth season overall on the staff.

Howle transitioned into coaching after his playing days were over, serving as a graduate assistant for NC State from 2014 to 2015. Howle then became the offensive line coach at Western Carolina in 2016 before adding on assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator duties in 2018.

Howle joined Penn State’s staff in 2020 as an offensive analyst before becoming the tight ends coach in 2021. Howle coached 2023 third-round pick Brenton Strange for the past two seasons. Howle has helped guide one of the nation’s most productive tight end rooms.

Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties: Anthony Poindexter

A two-time All-American safety, a three-time All-ACC performer, and the 1998 ACC Defensive Player of the Year at Virginia, Anthony Poindexter is a college football Hall of Fame inductee and is in his third year coaching safeties at Penn State.

After a brief NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, Poindexter returned to Virginia as a graduate assistant coach in 2003. Poindexter coached various roles at Virginia from 2004 to 2013, coaching running backs, special teams, defensive backs, and safeties in his decade with the Cavaliers.

While at Virginia, Poindexter coached six NFL Draft selections as well as undrafted safety Rodney McLeod. Poindexter served as defensive coordinator/safeties coach at UConn from 2014-2016, coaching talents like Obi Melifonwu and Andrew Adams on their way to being drafted.

Poindexter then moved to the Big Ten to serve as co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach at Purdue from 2017 to 2020 before taking the same job with the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2021. At Penn State, Poindexter has coached safeties Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown into second and third-round selections, respectively.

Offensive Line coach: Phil Trautwein

Phil Trautwein’s coaching career has been brief compared to other coaches on this staff, but his tenure has been just as impactful. He enters 2023 as his fourth season on the Penn State coaching staff.

Trautwein started coaching as a graduate assistant at Boston College from 2013 to 2015, working with the offensive line, tight ends, and fullbacks. Trautwein then spent 2016 and 2017 coaching tight ends and special teams at Davidson before returning to Boston College as their offensive line coach in 2018.

At Boston College, Trautwein coached Chris Lindstrom to All-American and All-ACC honors on his way to a first-round selection in 2019. Trautwein also coached another first-round pick in Zion Johnson and other undrafted players like Alec Lindstrom, Ben Patrula, and Tyler Vrabel.

Trautwein took over as Penn State’s offensive line coach in 2020. In his first season, four Penn State offensive linemen, Will Fries, Mike Miranda, Michal Menet, and Rasheed Walker, earned All-Big Ten honors. Fries, Menet, and Walker were all drafted in 2021 and 2022. In addition, Trautwein also coached a 2023 second-round pick in Juice Scruggs. Current left tackle Olu Fashanu is also projected to be a high first-round prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Defensive Line coach: Deion Barnes

Barnes enters his first season in 2023 as the Nittany Lions’ defensive line coach after spending the previous three years on the Penn State staff as a graduate assistant working with the defensive line. A former Big Ten Freshman of the Year at Penn State, Barnes spent time playing in the NFL and AAF before returning to Penn State as a coach.

During his three seasons working with the defensive line, Barnes has helped coach 11 All-Big Ten defensive linemen, including three first-team selections and a second-team All-American.

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