New Penn State tight ends coach Ty Howle spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time in his role, almost a decade removed from his playing career as a Nittany Lion along the offensive line.
“The reason I came back here was for an opportunity like this,” Howle said. “When I left Penn State as a player, it was always my goal to get back here as a coach. I always knew I wanted to coach. My dad was a high school coach for 30 years, and so I knew I wanted to coach, and when I got into it, this was my ultimate goal to get back to a place that gave me so much, a great university like Penn State, and obviously, this is home for me.”
Howle – who played at Penn State from 2009 until 2012 – takes over in the tight ends coaching role following the departure of Tyler Bowen who will do the same in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The good news for Penn State head coach James Franklin – Howle is already familiar with all the ins and outs of the Lasch Building, as well as the players and staff that call it home after spending last season as an offensive analyst for the program.
“Fortunately for me, it was a pretty smooth transition because I had been here,” Howle said. “I knew those guys on and off the field and had developed relationships with them already.
“I got to know those guys very well, whether at team dinners or those kind of things so you get to develop those relationships and that’s what I tried to do last year, so it wasn’t too hard of a transition as far as getting to know the guys.”
Howle will have plenty of talent to work with even following the departure of NFL bound star tight end Pat Freiermuth. Both returning talents Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson appear poised to take over in Freiermuth’s absence and could very well provide an even better one-two punch.
Only time will tell how that unfolds, but for a first career Power Five coaching job, Howle could do a lot worse than those two.
There is a circular nature of Howle’s football story though, the former Nittany Lion was at Penn State on both sides of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, watching the program go from the relative highs of the late 2000s to the uncertainty of the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
In turn Howle returns to a very different Penn State almost a decade later. Whatever shortcomings there may have been over the past few seasons under Franklin’s watch, the Nittany Lions have been as successful as anyone, have a Big Ten title to their name and at least two seasons of legitimate playoff hopes.
Go back to the Bill O’Brien years and the final days of the Joe Paterno era, and Howle may have never guessed things would be back to relative normal so quickly.
“I think the biggest thing is we all had each other’s backs,” Howle said. “We had our player’s backs, our coaches’ backs and. And so it was a neat time to just kind of see that bond come together and I think that was ultimately a little bit of why there was so much support when I got the job. Those [former teammates] reaching out because we were so close, you know obviously unprecedented times can can really bring people together.”
“I think the biggest thing is we wanted to play for Penn State and you talk to anybody who played on those teams, we love this place.”
Now Howle will get to pass that love down to his players, once again looking to make Penn State a better place once he’s gone.