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James Franklin Begins to Assemble Staff

Update (3:46 p.m.): Pete Roussel of is reporting that Vanderbilt defensive line coach Sean Spencer will join Franklin’s staff at Penn State.

Less than 48 hours after landing in Happy Valley, Penn State’s new head coach James Franklin began to assemble his coaching staff, according to multiple reports published Sunday.

Franklin will bring a bevy of people from his staff at Vanderbilt to Happy Valley according to’s Mike Poorman: defensive coordinator/safeties Bob Shoop, director of performance enhancement Dwight Galt, offensive recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach Josh Gattis, and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Charles Bankins. Pete Roussel also reported that chief-of-staff Jemal Griffin and assistant coach/co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Pry will join Franklin.

Under Shoop and Pry’s tutelage, the Commodore’s “Black Death” defense — a nickname coined by Shoop — went from one of the worst in America prior to his arrival to a solid-yet-unspectacular unit. Last year, the Commodores had 18 interceptions, allowed 24.6 points per game, and racked up 28.0 sacks. Those marks were 13th, 46th, and 28th nationally, respectively.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Shoop spent time as a defensive coordinator and/or secondary coach at Northeastern, Yale, Villanova, Army, Boston College, UMass, and William & Mary. Shoop was also the head coach at Columbia from 2003-05, where he compiled a 7-23 record.

Pry is an Altoona native, who was then outside linebackers and defensive backs coach at East Stroudsburg when Franklin was the school’s quarterback. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Pry was a defensive coach for East Stroudsburg, Virginia Tech, Western Carolina, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, and Georgia Southern.

Gattis and Bankins were both instrumental in Vanderbilt’s offensive game plan last season. The two, armed with first-team All American wide receiver Jordan Matthews, helped give Vanderbilt the nation’s 67th best passing attack in America at 227.5 yards per game in 2013. Gattis is the only coach that Franklin is bringing to Happy Valley that wasn’t on Franklin’s original staff at Vanderbilt.

Griffin and Franklin both worked on Maryland’s staff prior to their arrival to Nashville — Franklin was the school’s offensive coordinator, while Griffin was the operations director of the Terps’ football team. Griffin oversaw day-to-day operations of the football program at both schools. He was also Maryland’s assistant recruiting coordinator in 2006-07.

Galt will replace former strength and condition coach Craig Fitzgerald. The two have a history together — Fitzgerald was Galt’s star pupil at Maryland from 2000-2005, and Galt’s son, Dwight IV, was a member of Fitzgerald’s staff at Penn State and will reportedly join Fitzgerald’s staff in Houston.

There are still several more positions on Franklin’s staff that need to be filled, and the role of guys like longtime Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson are still unknown, but we’ll will keep you updated as more coaching hires come in.

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