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Major Moves to Begin Penn State's Offseason

The Lions have made plenty of news since the Outback Bowl. We've got it covered.

Penn State football has no offseason. In fact, the Lions make the weeks after bowl season tremendously impactful through staff changes, transfer decisions and portal recruiting.

Following a 7-6 season that he called "not what we had hoped for," Penn State coach James Franklin has work to do. And we're tracking, and reacting to, all the offseason news here.

Strength coach Dwight Galt retiring

Franklin has lost several long-time staff members this offseason, notably former defensive coordinator Brent Pry and key staffer Michael Hazel (more on him later). With Dwight Galt's retirement, Franklin has to replace another key member of his inner circle.

Galt, who announced his retirement Friday, has been Penn State's director of performance enhancement since 2014. In all, he headed Franklin's strength-and-conditioning program for 11 years at Penn State and Vanderbilt. The two also worked together at Maryland, and Galt has been fiercely loyal to Franklin.

"I think we have the best strength staff in America, led by Dwight Galt," Franklin said before the 2017 season. "I've been with the guy for a long time, and our development of our guys is as good as any place I've ever been."

Galt's reputation for getting players ready, for college and the NFL, is legendary. He has been in the business for nearly 40 years, served as a Power 5 director of performance enhancement for 29 years and made national news with the NFL combine performances of players like Saquon Barkley, Micah Parsons and Odafe Oweh. Galt also worked with Vernon Davis, Darius Heyward-Bey and Shawn Merriman.

Franklin has a potential replacement on staff in Chuck Losey, who has been Galt's assistant director for the past 11 years at Penn State and Vanderbilt.

 Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher returning in 2022

The story: Mustipher announced Jan. 4 that he will return for his fifth season after sustaining a season-ending injury against Iowa in October. Despite playing in just six games, Mustipher was named second-team All-Big Ten, underscoring his reputation as one of the conference's top run-stuffers.

The reaction: This is Penn State's most significant offseason development in terms of the 2022 defensive roster. Mustipher's injury shook the Lions' defense but unfortunately went under-noticed because Sean Clifford was injured in the same game. But the Lions certainly missed Mustipher in the second half vs. Iowa and in losses to Illinois, Michigan and in the Outback Bowl vs. Arkansas.

A team captain, Mustipher is among Penn State's most talented, dedicated and respected players. He will help new coordinator Manny Diaz take control of a changing defense.

Penn State hires special teams coordinator

The story: Barely 24 hours after Oregon hired Joe Lorig away from Penn State, Franklin announced his new hire: Stacy Collins from Boise State.

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Collins is Franklin's fourth special teams coordinator and went to the same college, Western Oregon, as Lorig. He spent last season as the special teams coordinator at Boise State, the 11th stop of his 24-year career. Collins also will coach outside linebackers and nickel backs at Penn State.

"He will bring significant value to our program and has a great depth of special teams knowledge and has found great success as a coordinator," Franklin said of Collins in a release. "His coaching style on special teams will allow us to continue our strong tradition as a special teams unit."

The reaction: This is among Franklin's most unique hires. Collins certainly fills the experience requirement Franklin has for his coordinators: His lengthy resume includes four seasons as a head coach, at South Dakota Schools of Mines from 2012-2015.

But South Dakota also is the farthest East, in the U.S., Collins has coached (he spent a few years in Europe from 1999-2001). Collins has spent the majority of his career in Idaho, Utah, Washington and Oregon, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to Penn State and the Big Ten.

Franklin loses a key staff member to Virginia Tech

The story: Brent Pry not only left Penn State to become Virginia Tech's head coach but also took a longtime member of Franklin's staff with him. Michael Hazel, who had been Franklin's senior director of football operations, joined Virginia Tech as Pry's chief of staff.

The reaction: This is a behind-the-scenes move that matters substantially internally. Hazel had been with Franklin for 11 years, dating to their time at Vanderbilt, and was instrumental in running the Penn State program.

Among his other duties, Hazel oversaw the analytics department and facility-upgrade projects, two areas dear to Franklin. He also coordinated the head coach's public appearances and acted as a liaison with the communications department on messaging and branding. As Pry was a trusted confidant of Franklin's, so was Hazel.

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