Potential Candidates For Penn State Football’s Next Special Teams Coordinator

With special teams coordinator Stacy Collins reportedly out the door from the Lasch Building to Boise State, James Franklin has another coordinator to hire. After bringing in Andy Kotelnicki to run the offense and Tom Allen to run the defense, Franklin will have to turn his eyes to special teams.

Special teams searches are always interesting, and there aren’t necessarily obvious candidates on the open market like there are with other coordinating positions. Still, we took a jab at who Franklin and his staff could bring in as the team’s next hire.

Demario Warren | Special Teams Assistant, Boise State

Boise State taketh, and Boise State giveth.

With Collins heading back to Boise State, that might mean Demario Warren’s role with the program is set to diminish. It’s worth noting Warren isn’t Boise State’s special teams coordinator, just an assistant. Still, Warren’s group put together some good numbers.

The Broncos weren’t particularly strong in punt returns and kick returns last season, but James Ferguson-Reynolds, the team’s punter, had the top numbers for punt yards per attempt (49.73). The Broncos’ kicker, Jonah Dalmas, ranked No. 10 in the country in field goal percentage (88.9%). That’s a pretty special duo in the Mountain West’s best team.

Penn State’s hired from Boise State before, so reaching out to Idaho isn’t out of the question.

James Shibest | Special Teams Coordinator, UNLV

Like Warren, James Shibest is a special teams coordinator with one of the group’s better units statistically but a coach relegated to the facilities of a non-Power Five program.

Some numbers that stand out for UNLV: it was ranked No. 8 in yards per punt return (17.17), No. 17 in yards per kickoff return (23.83), No. 2 in punt returns of 20+ yards (7), No. 1 in kickoff returns of 30+ yards (12), No. 9 in field goal percentage (89.7), and No. 6 in punt yards per attempt (47.06).

Shibest has been around college football for a few years, making stops at Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Memphis, and Arkansas, among others. He’s only been with the Rebels for two seasons, so who’s to say he’s not open to another move?

Coleman Hutzler | Special Teams Coordinator, Alabama

With Nick Saban gone as the head coach at Alabama and Kalen DeBoer taking over the role, it stands to reason there will be some movement in at least one of those programs. It isn’t often a Division I special teams coordinator has to go on a job hunt in these conditions, but either way, it may fare well for Penn State.

Like everything with the Crimson Tide, Coleman Hutzler’s unit at Alabama was one of the better ones in the country, especially in Power Five football. The Crimson Tide were one of the best in the country in long punt returns (four), long kickoff returns (five), field goal percentage (88%), and punting (47.16 yards per punt).

Hutzler also has plenty of experience around top-level football programs. Before Alabama, Hutzler was a coach with Ole Miss, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida. He also worked with Boston College, New Mexico, and San Diego State.

Eric Schmidt | Special Teams Coordinator, Washington

Eric Schmidt’s numbers from his time at Washington aren’t as pretty as Hutzler’s with Alabama. Still, the Huskies, national championship runner-ups this year, were pretty solid. They did well in stopping explosive plays on their own kickoffs and put together eight kickoff returns of 30+ yards themselves, tied for the best total in the country.

There were a number of categories Schmidt’s group slacked in this year — punting and kicking stand out the most. After all, the special teams unit at Washington wasn’t what got it to a playoff game, the offense was. Still, the experience of a College Football Playoff coach wouldn’t necessarily hurt Penn State, even if it isn’t the best option.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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