Anthony Midget knew of Bill OBrien but had never personally met him as of two months ago.
This is why it came as a great surprise to Penn State’s current safeties coach when the Nittany Lions head man — by way of a mutual friend — called him about a potential job in early February, just over a week after Midget had already left his position as Georgia State’s defensive coordinator for a defensive assistant’s job at Marshall.
“Obviously coach [Bill] Curry retired after the season ended at Georgia State, so toward end of January, I got hired to go to Marshall to be the secondary coach,” said Midget during a conference call yesterday with reporters. “A week and a half later coach O’Brien called and said he had a vacancy available, and asked if I was interested.”
Despite moving to his third program in less than three months after spending five seasons at Georgia State, the offer was too good to pass up.
“I said yes, interviewed, and he offered, so a week and a half later I was at Penn State. The opportunity to come to one of the most storied college programs and be a part of staff here, that’s why I took the job.”
Since arriving in State College, Midget has hit the ground running. Arriving a month before spring practice allowed him to sort through 2012 film of the safeties, but beyond game tape, Midget is relying on past mentors, current fellow assistant coaches, and experienced players to help make the transition an easy one.
So far, Midget likes what he sees from all angles. He will typically work with the safeties during practice but also watches film with defensive coordinator John Butler and the cornerbacks.
“I think the game has changed, and it’s a benefit to have two guys who can coach the secondary,” said Midget, describing himself as an energetic guy who coaches with passion.
“It’s a blessing for me to be in the same room as some of these guys like Butler and Larry Johnson Sr. I’m just a sponge, trying to soak everything up to learn and grow.”
The intense style can walk a fine line between getting players to buy in and having young kids tune it out, but Midget believes he is on the right side of it.
“The guys feed off it. They want us to push them to be great, but at the same time, we have their best interests at heart off the field. Our doors are always open,” Midget said.
“I’m taking it all in because he was an All-American. To get to the highest level, you really have to listen,” said senior safety Malcolm Willis, who Midget singled out as being a “coach on the field” as the secondary looks to do a better job creating turnovers in 2013 after only intercepting three passes last fall.
Midget has some pieces to work with as the unit returns three starters, including the versatile Adrian Amos, while also adding converted safety Malik Golden as an option. While short on depth, there is a solid mix of talent and potential.
After studying under experienced coaches such as Frank Beamer as a player at Virginia Tech in the late 1990s, and again as a graduate in 2007 along with Curry at Georgia State, Midget is ready to make his own impact.
“I’m looking forward to building on what they [Penn State] already did and taking it to the next level,” said Midget.