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A Look At Penn State Football’s Flurry Of New Coaching Hires

James Franklin and Penn State football have been busy over the last few months.

Along with an extremely active few months in the transfer portal, the Nittany Lions have made three major changes to the coaching staff in the early weeks of 2021.

While coaching changes can sometimes lead to nerves and uncertainty surrounding a team and fanbase, all of Penn State’s new hires seem to bring excitement to a squad that struggled mightily in 2020. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the coaches who’ve been welcomed to Happy Valley over the past few weeks.

Mike Yurcich, Offensive Coordinator

The first and most influential change to Franklin’s group in 2021 was without a doubt the hiring of Mike Yurcich. After spending six years running Oklahoma State’s high-flying offense and a pair of seasons with Ohio State and Texas, Yurcich was called in to take over for Kirk Ciarrocca.

Penn State’s offense clearly struggled under Ciarrocca during his one season in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions scored just 32 rushing or passing touchdowns in 2020, while Yurcich’s past programs have averaged 61.9 touchdowns per season.

If nothing else, many hope Yurcich will bring creativity to a Penn State offense that was anything but in 2020. He already laid out many of his plans at his introductory press conference just a few weeks ago.

“I love power football. It’s how I was raised,” Yurcich said earlier this year. “There’s a time to go under center. I think it provides a lot of advantages. When you can turn back to the defense they don’t know where the ball is, necessarily, so your play-action passes can increase…That fullback position also does have its advantages.”

Ty Howle, Tight Ends Coach

Penn State’s other new offensive coach is Ty Howle, who was promoted to tight ends coach after serving as an offensive analyst for the 2020 season. Howle takes over for Tyler Bowen, who’s headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars after coaching for the Nittany Lions for three seasons.

Bowen helped develop some unbelievable tight end talent at Penn State and was a successful recruiter, but Howle is now in a strong position to set up his own legacy coaching the tight ends. He now becomes the second former Penn State player on the coaching staff along with associate head coach Terry Smith.

Howle was a rock-solid center for the Nittany Lions during a tumultuous time for the program and was even selected as a team captain for the 2013 season. Of all of the new pieces added to Penn State’s staff, the 29-year-old will likely be able to connect with his players on a powerful level.

“There’s nothing like a team in life,” Howle said. “I always knew I wanted to be a part of that. When I finished playing, it wasn’t the four-overtime win against Michigan that I missed or remembered the best. It’s the time in the locker room when you’re playing trash can basketball. Being a part of a team is something that I love and is one of the reasons I’m coaching.”

Anthony Poindexter, Co-Defensive Coordinator & Safeties Coach

Penn State’s most recent hire comes on the defensive side of the ball. After co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks left to run Tennessee’s defense, former Purdue coach Anthony Poindexter was hired for the same position.

There’s no questioning the fact that Poindexter has had an illustrious college football career as a player and coach up to this point. The Virginia native starred at safety for UVA from 1995 to 1998 and was a two-time consensus All-American. This past year, he was named to the 2020 class of the College Football Hall of Fame.

As a coach, Poindexter spent 11 years managing different defensive spots with the Cavaliers, three seasons with UConn, and, most recently, four seasons with the Boilermakers.

It’s already been a busy offseason for the Nittany Lions, but changes like this so early in a year could mean that coaches will develop relationships with players well before the 2021 season begins.

That was something noted as a struggle for position coaches Taylor Stubblefield and Phil Trautwein, who both took over just as the coronavirus began to take hold in the United States.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email

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