Speaking this week on a panel at the annual AFCA Convention, James Franklin laid out his process for making a new hire for his staff.
“Your resume means nothing,” the Penn State coach said, according to Football Scoop. “I’ve never looked at a resume — ever. Your references mean nothing. I’m not calling your references, I’m calling the people that I know. I’m not working with someone 16 to 17 hours a day if I don’t know them or someone that I know trusts them.”
David Corley had that going for him, which is a big reason why he’s now the Nittany Lions’ new running backs coach.
Penn State announced the hire of its new 10th assistant on Friday, rounding out its staff for the 2018 season.
And his own impression and the word of other coaches meant more to Franklin than Corley’s most recent job, coaching wide receivers at Army West Point, which completed just 20 passes last year.
“David is a dynamic football coach who will be a great fit in our program,” Franklin said through the school. “I have gotten to know David over the last several years and followed his career closely. … People I respect in this profession think the world of David and his family, and we feel they will be a tremendous addition to our Penn State community.”
Corley replaces Charles Huff, who left for Mississippi State last month when the Bulldogs hired Lions offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as head coach.
“My family and I are very excited about the opportunity to join the Penn State family,” Corley said through the school. “I have admired coach Franklin’s work for a long time.”
Before his lone season at Army, Corley had coached running backs at UConn and at his alma mater, William & Mary, where he was a four-year starting quarterback who was recently inducted into the Tribe’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
In his three seasons at UConn, Corley impressed former Huskies coach Bob Diaco, who promoted him to offensive coordinator for the final month of a crumbling 2016 season.
“It’s an incredibly challenging circumstance he’s taking over,” Diaco said of Corley at the time. “David is really talented and he’s going to be an icon in our profession, but he’s not a magician.”
The Huskies were shut out in their next two games against Temple and Boston College and closed out the season with a 38-13 loss to Tulane. Diaco was fired and his staff scattered, with Corley ending up at West Point.
Diaco chose Corley for the job in part because of his overall football IQ, noting that “his suggestions in-game that I get a chance to listen to have been on point and spot on. He has a real good feel for that.”
Both Diaco and Corley recognized that the situation at UConn was likely unsalvageable. But the results weren’t what stood out to the head coach.
“No matter whether it’s in four days, four weeks or four years, he’s going to be a star in our profession,” Diaco said. “A very talented coach. And I’m looking forward to him grinding.”
Corley’s lone season at Army coincided with one of the Black Knights’ best seasons in modern history, as they tied the school record with 10 wins and beat both archrival Navy and Air Force to win the Commander in Chief’s Trophy for the first time in two decades.
“These players are going to be leading our nation in a few years, (and) I feel very confident that America is in good hands,” Corley wrote on Twitter Friday, thanking Army coach Todd Monken for the opportunity. “Coaching Army West Point football has been an experience that I will never forget.”
Now he is tasked with leading a Lions running back room that must fill the enormous void left by Saquon Barkley but will also have a pair of five-star talents in projected starter Miles Sanders and incoming freshman Ricky Slade.
On top of that, Corley will also be asked to put in some heavy work recruiting, as his predecessor, Huff, was one of the Lions’ best on the trail. Huff was a big part of Penn State’s nationally regarded 2018 class, performing well in the coveted DMV area (D.C./Maryland/Virginia).
A North Carolina native, Corley may end up inheriting some of those duties as well.
”He has continuously impressed me with his drive and passion for the game and recruiting,” Franklin said. “He has an infectious personality and competitiveness that will impact our running back room.”
Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse