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Terry Smith, Lone Holdover From James Franklin’s 2014 Coaching Staff, ‘Fortunate and Blessed’ to Work at Alma Mater

Photo by Penn State Athletics

“We’re it, huh?”

That’s what Terry Smith asked, rhetorically and with a laugh, in response to a question that alluded to the fact that he’s the only coach left from James Franklin’s first staff as Penn State head coach in 2014.

Offensive coordinator John Donovan was let go at the end of the 2015 regular season.

Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive line coach Herb Hand left in January 2016.

Special teams coordinator and running backs coach Charles Huff stayed through 2017, and today is the head coach at Marshall.

Receivers coach Josh Gattis also left after 2017, and today is Miami’s offensive coordinator.

Quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Ricky Rahne rose to offensive coordinator before leaving Penn State after the 2019 regular season to become the head coach at Old Dominion, where he is today.

Defensive line coach Sean Spencer (“Coach Chaos”) left for the New York Giants in January of 2020.

Brent Pry succeeded Shoop as defensive coordinator and left to become the head man at Virginia Tech this November after six years running Penn State’s defense.

Penn State has had plenty of coaches come and go after 2014, but Smith, Penn State’s associate head coach, cornerbacks coach and defensive recruiting coordinator, remains at his alma mater.

“First and foremost,” Smith told reporters Wednesday afternoon, “I’m fortunate and blessed that James chose me to come with him and then to have a title as associate head coach and to be here for eight seasons. I feel really honored as a letterman.”

Smith, who played receiver at Penn State from 1987 to 1991, started for three years and ranks 12th on the schools receiving touchdowns list, has seen many coaches leave Penn State to further their careers.

Four former Franklin assistants– Pry, Rhane, Huff and Akron’s Joe Moorhead– are now Division I head coaches, and Smith is happy about the success his former co-workers have had.

“When you have those type of changes, those are very positive,” Smith said. “You’re excited about those things and happy for those guys. That’s a tribute to coach Franklin and the system that we run here because it’s a great feeder for us as individuals and what we want for our career goals as well.”

Before returning to Penn State, Smith began his coaching career at Hempfield High School in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1996. A

After a year at Hempfield, Smith spent four seasons as Duquesne University’s passing game coordinator, then began a 12 season run at his high school Alma Mater, Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

He started at Gateway as the offensive coordinator in 2001, then took over as head coach in 2002 and became the school’s athletic director, while keeping his head coaching responsibilities, in 2003.

Between 2002 and 2012, Smith posted a 101-30 record and made it to four WPIAL title games.

In 2013, Smith coached the receivers at Temple University. The next year, he came back to his college football home.

A lot has changed with Penn State and college football since 2014. But what would Smith tell his younger self if he had a time machine?

“I guess 2022 Terry Smith would say, continue to create more patience for young people,” he said, “because the world is changing every day, and it’s changing dramatically. And we must be willing to change with it and adapt to it, and if we don’t, we get left behind. I don’t want to be the Blackberry guy. I want to be the Apple iPhone guy.”

But overall, Smith wouldn’t change much about his career.

“I’m blessed to be here,” Smith said, “and to have the opportunity to coach these guys.”

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