Penn State’s new defensive line coach Sean Spencer knows the kind of shoes he’s filling. The shoes of a coach who spent 18 years at Penn State becoming one of the nation’s most respected coaches and recruiters. Nothing about that act is easy to follow, but Spencer isn’t trying to one-up Larry Johnson, he’s trying to be the best Sean Spencer he can be.
“You pay homage and respect to the people who came before you,” Spencer said this week. “Larry Johnson did a lot to pave the way for African American coaches and for me to be in this situation that I’m in today I have great respect for who he is.”
“But I also have great confidence in who I am. People talk about big shoes to fill, I have to fill my own shoes.”
Coach Chaos as he is called by his players and coaches, is about as high energy as they come. Spencer has an infectious booming personality that is in many ways a reflection of what he wants his defensive lines to be. An aggressive, never ending wall of effort, energy, and attack. Every defensive coach promises aggression and excitement, but it’s hard to imagine Spencer won’t make good on his word.
“I always tell the kids this, that they can’t match my intensity,” Spencer said smiling. “Everyday I want them to go out on the practice field and just try to match my intensity.”
Like many of the coaches on Penn State’s staff, their is a certain spell that their new Penn State jobs have cast on them. Each expressing some genuine amazement that they now coach at Penn State. For Spencer, a Clarion University graduate who started his coaching career at Shippensburg, everything is still a little too good to be true. A sign that maybe this staff will give a little extra to prove that they belong.
“I was talking to coach Franklin just the other day,” Spencer said. “I was laughing and like ‘You’re the head coach at Penn State!’ and he laughed and was like ‘You’re the defensive line coach at Penn State!’ and we both just laughed it off. It’s really just kind of surreal at times.”
And so Spencer moves forward into what will all too soon be spring practice for the Nittany Lions and his first chance to really get to know his players. From using a pay phone to call recruits’ coaches while coaching at small schools, to recruiting with a 107,000 person stadium at his back, Spencer has seen it all.
“It’s just amazing, I can’t wait to get going.” He said grinning from ear to ear.