Penn State Assistant Coach Departs For Another Assistant Coaching Job

Penn St Practice Football
Penn State wide receivers coach Josh Gattis chases his son Jace, 2, following NCAA college football practice Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in State College, Pa. (Joe Hermitt/ via AP)

For the third time this offseason, a Penn State offensive assistant is packing his backs and heading to the SEC.

After offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead took the head coaching job at Mississippi State, and Charles Huff followed him to Starkville a few weeks later, the Nittany Lions’ offense is losing another assistant coach. Wide receivers coach Josh Gattis will be departing Happy Valley for Tuscaloosa to join Nick Saban’s coaching staff at Alabama. It is reported that Gattis will serve as a co-offensive coordinator alongside recently promoted Mike Locksley in 2018. The pair will attempt to replace Brian Daboll, who left the college ranks to get back into the NFL, becoming the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. The duo will be the third set of play callers in the last three years for Saban, who also lost both Lane Kiffin, who was dismissed prior to the College Football Playoff, and found his way to FAU, and Steve Sarkisian, who coached one game as Alabama’s offensive coordinator before bouncing for the Atlanta Falcons’ coordinator position.

Gattis departs State College after four seasons as the Nittany Lions’ receivers coach, helping propel Chris Godwin to the NFL and grow the draft stock of outgoing DaeSean Hamilton, who is reportedly wowing scouts prior to the Senior Bowl. Perhaps more importantly than losing Gattis’ coaching ability is the void being created in his recruiting talents. Gattis helped recruit Justin Shorter, Juwan Johnson, Brandon Polk and more. Whomever the Nittany Lions hire to fill Gattis’ role is stepping into some large shoes. It won’t be easy to find a 2018 replacement.

James Franklin brought Gattis with him after he departed Vanderbilt for the vacant head coaching job after the 2013 season. Gattis was with Franklin in Nashville for two seasons before they traversed to Happy Valley. Before his time at Vanderbilt, Gattis spent lone seasons with both Western Michigan, as the receivers coach, and North Carolina, as a graduate assistant. Gattis’ rise to co-offensive coordinator was swift and efficient, relying on incredible recruiting skills and coaching prowess.

Prior to Gattis’ coaching career, he was a two-year starting safety for Wake Forest. In four years, Gattis recorded 154 tackles, 12 interceptions and two touchdowns. After his collegiate career, Gattis was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also played for the Chicago Bears in 2008.

There has been no immediate word as to whom may succeed Gattis as receivers coach.