Penn State will begin spring practice in two weeks, and they’ll do so with a new defensive line coach, as John Scott Jr. will be moving to the pro level and joining the Detroit Lions staff, sources confirmed to Blue White Illustrated on Monday.
Scott just completed his third season with the Nittany Lions, joining Penn State’s coaching staff in 2020. During his first season on the staff, he helped turn Odafe Oweh into a first-round draft pick with Baltimore Ravens. He’s the only Penn State defensive lineman to be selected that high since Aaron Maybin in 2009. Shaka Toney was also drafted that season, going in the seventh round to the Washington Commanders. He and Oweh were the first Penn State defensive end duo to earn All-Big Ten first-team honors since 1998.
In 2021, Scott also helped Arnold Ebiketie go in the second round to the Atlanta Falcons. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and second-team All-America honors by the FWAA. He totaled 17 tackles for loss that season, leading the nation.
A native of Greer, S.C., Scott was connected to previous defensive coordinator Brent Pry, who he played for at Western Carolina and coached under at Louisiana-Lafayette. His last stop in the NFL was with the New York Jets in 2015 and 2016.
Before getting to Penn State, Scott spent a season at South Carolina in 2019 as its defensive line coach, where he helped mold Javon Kinlaw into a first-round draft pick with the San Francisco 49ers. Scott also spent two seasons with the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2017 and 2018.
While the move does hurt, especially with spring practice just around the corner, it is notable that head coach James Franklin retained Deion Barnes this year after three seasons as a graduate assistant. A Penn State alum, Barnes has been a key member of PSU’s staff, especially on the recruiting trail. He’ll likely be a prime candidate to fill this position with many of the nation’s top jobs already filled.
Scott is the second staff change following an 11-2 season for the Nittany Lions. Franklin hired wide receivers coach Marques Hagans at the end of January to replace former assistant Taylor Stubblefield.