This weekend Penn State will play its final home game of the season against Jim Harbaugh, Jabrill Peppers and the surging Michigan Wolverines. As is typically the case around college football, the last home game of the year will see a proper sendoff to Penn State’s seniors, the first class signed by former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien. Though not a senior, many suspect this could also be the final home game for quarterback Christian Hackenberg. He says that thought has not crossed his mind.
Hackenberg shined as a freshman under O’Brien but has struggled at times in the past two seasons under James Franklin. Some still see potential in Hackenberg as an NFL prospect, but his stock and likelihood of being a potential draft pick has dropped considerably since the start of the season as a lack of progress as a passer has been apparent. Josh Norris of RotoWorld currently ranks Hackenberg as the sixth top quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft, assuming Hackenberg passes on his final season in State College. Hackenberg is now behind players like Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Other quarterbacks previously in the discussion for top quarterback options along with Hackenberg, Cal’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, are also both ahead of Penn State’s best quarterback prospect since Kerry Collins.
If Hackenberg does not declare early for the NFL Draft, there are those who believe his next best option might be to transfer to another school to play in a system more likely to use his skill set in a more preferable way. For now at least, Hackenberg’s on the record suggesting he has every intention on returning to Penn State for his fourth and final year of eligibility in 2016.
For the second time this spinning of the coaching carousel, a Left Coast FBS program has lost an assistant to its little brother level of college football.
First, it was Cal losing offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin to the head job FCS Cal Poly. This time around it’s San Diego State, with FCS Lamar officially introducing Blane Morgan as its new head football coach.
Morgan spent the past five seasons as the quarterbacks coach at SDSU. Before that, he was at alma mater Air Force for a dozen years as, at various times, wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator.
ROCKY LONG, HEAD COACH, SAN DIEGO STATE
“Blane has been a key part of our 48-18 record over the past five years. He understands what it takes to win and is a proven winner. He’s gotten the most out of his players, and their consistent play is a big reason for our two conference championships since he’s been here. He should make an outstanding head coach.”
FISHER DEBERRY, FORMER HEAD COACH, AIR FORCE
“Blane Morgan is going to be a great college head coach! He was a tremendous quarterback as a player and was one of the most competitive players and coaches that we had in the program at the Air Force Academy. Being the son of a great and very successful high school coach, and also being on the staff of one of the nation’s premier defensive coaches in the college game makes him well qualified and ready for this responsible job. He will be a great role model and mentor to the players! Players and supporters will love his beautiful family and they will be inspired by his leadership. Lamar University has found a nugget.”
TROY CALHOUN, HEAD COACH, AIR FORCE
“In Blane Morgan and his family, Lamar is getting a first-class leader that bleeds for their home state of Texas. He’s a superb coach and will be a tremendous representative of the university.“
It goes without saying that Jeff Traylor has hit the ground running in San Antonio.
Monday, Traylor was officially introduced as the new head football coach at UTSA. Thursday, Traylor announced that he has brought in five new assistants and retained another as part of his first coaching staff with the Roadrunners.
Those assistant coaches are:
- Daniel Da Prato (special teams coordinator)
- Nick Graham (cornerbacks)
- Julian Griffin (running backs)
- Jess Loepp (safeties/recruiting coordinator)
- Matt Mattox (run-game coordinator/offensive line)
- Rod Wright (defensive line)
Wright is the only holdover from Frank Wilson‘s last staff at the school.
Da Prato (special teams), Griffin (offensive quality control assistant) and Loepp (offensive analyst) all come to UTSA from Arkansas. Traylor spent the past two seasons as the associate head coach and running backs coach with the Razorbacks.
Graham (defensive assistant) and Mattox (offensive coordinator) were both at McNeese State for the 2019 season.
With yesterday’s developments, Traylor has just four more openings on his on-field staff to fill. Unless he gets raided by another football program, of course.
For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.
First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.
Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.
“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”
Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.
In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).
The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.
Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.
While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.
Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.
Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.
Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.
In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.