Nittany Lions linked to Florida assistant to fill coaching vacancy

By Derek Levarse - [email protected]

Josh Gattis officially said goodbye on Wednesday. Penn State could soon be saying hello to his replacement.

Calling it one of the hardest decisions in life, Gattis took to Twitter in the late morning to thank the Nittany Lions and coach James Franklin as he starts his new job at defending national champion Alabama, where he will also coach wide receivers.

“Thank you to the Penn State community for the past 4 years!” wrote Gattis, who reportedly received a bump in pay and a co-offensive coordinator title to join the Crimson Tide. “Thank you to Coach Franklin for the past 6 years being a mentor/friend for helping shape me as a coach!

“Penn State will always hold a special place in my heart, as both of my kids have been born in State College!”

With the second signing period opening in just two weeks, Franklin and the Lions don’t have much time to waste filling his spot. Multiple reports out of Florida on Wednesday suggested the job could be going to Gators assistant Ja’Juan Seider, who coached running backs for former coach Jim McElwain and was in line to return as a tight ends coach for new boss Dan Mullen.

Seider, 39, is a Florida native who hails from Palm Beach County but also has ties to the Mid-Atlantic, having started his collegiate coaching and playing career at West Virginia, where he oversaw the Mountaineers’ running backs for four years before moving back home to work for the Gators last season.

Seider’s name initially surfaced in connection to Penn State at the beginning of the month during the annual AFCA Convention, when the Lions were looking for a running backs coach. Penn State ultimately hired David Corley for that position.

But if Seider does indeed end up in Happy Valley, it’s conceivable that he could end up as the running backs coach if Corley is willing to coach the receivers, a position he held last season at Army West Point. Seider has not previously been a receivers coach.

Whoever does end up getting the job will have a tough act to follow in Gattis, who was consistently known as the staff’s top recruiter in addition to being well liked by players and coaches alike. In each of his three stops as a receivers coach — Western Michigan, Vanderbilt and Penn State — he ended up coaching each school’s career receptions leader, a record DaeSean Hamilton broke this past fall for the Lions.

Gattis continues to look better as Hamilton has greatly impressed pro scouts the past two weeks, first during practices for the East-West Shrine game. His performances earned him an invitation to this weekend’s prestigious Senior Bowl, and he has appeared to greatly boost his draft stock in this week’s practices against top competition.

“Bettered me in every way,” tweeted Juwan Johnson, the Lions’ leading returning receiver for 2018, of Gattis.

“Just as much as you bettered me!” Gattis responded. “Love ya man, always will, nothing will change that. I can actually just be your fan now!”

By Derek Levarse

[email protected]

Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse

Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse