Coaching transitions happen all the time across the college football world, whether it be joining a new staff or a new program. For Penn State wide receivers coach Gerad Parker, the transition to being a Nittany Lion has been rather easy for both himself and his family.
"You know what, it's kind of the nature of the beast," Parker said. "You become not immune to it, but it is, I tell people all the time, I tell my wife, I think the biggest thing we've done in our family structure is made it. It's the same. We can curse the same profession that's afforded us a great life."
Every transition is different and there are a lot of moving pieces when a coach moves to a new program and a lot of it falls on the families.
"For us, the transitions are always different and unique, but the only challenge has been this is the longest we've been without family," Parker said. "There's always that celebration of alright, you know, especially since we have more kids now. So it's been tough for that reason, but as far as the transition, this is a special place."
Transitioning aside, now that Parker has been on campus for a couple months, he's gotten to develop relationships with the players in his wide receiver's room.
"The wide receivers room is an exciting room that's got a chance to really, really improve itself," Parker said. "You've got guys that are willing and have let me in. Part of that, everybody says about my job, also my job is to get into their hearts and make them believe in what I'm about, who we are and what we're going to be. That's been awesome to see that process go. It always has it's challenges, but it's sure been an exciting thing too."
Parker coaches a group with perceivably the most opportunity to improve itself after a lackluster year under former coach David Corley. With Parker being around this summer, it makes for an opportune time to help his players grow on and off the field.
"You'll talk to 50,000 different coaches and I think some will say the summer is a good time to get away and take whatever," Parker said. "I get what everybody says, but for me the biggest growth of our room happens in the summer."
"It's a chance for us now with rules we can still get around them some and spend quality time in a less stressful environment relaxing and getting around them in good ways."
The Kentucky alum is no stranger to developing groups of receivers and using the summer to help stimulate the growth and bonds within his position group having done so at Duke and Purdue prior to Penn State.
"I think that's our biggest growth. It happened when I was at Purdue, it happened when I was at Duke and I really believe it'll happen here," Parker said. "I think, for us, the growth of this summer is going to be huge to write the expectations we have."
Expectations are high whenever players suit up in the blue-and-white, but when it comes to a group like the receivers who are young, but talented, it can be an even greater burden.
"I want them to not carry anxiety with expectation and I think that can happen sometimes from a youthful room and from a place that has high expectations like Penn State," Parker said.
With every season comes ebbs and flows both good, bad, and ugly which means it's important for players to be able to handle whatever situation they might fall into and be able to handle it the best way they can.
"My job, more than anything, is to get these guys wired to handle the bad ,and then be able to have more good. I really think they're heading that direction, they're building confidence, real confidence," says Parker.
A coach's job doesn't end at developing and helping players on the field. Now, more than ever it's also about helping the player grow off of the field. At times that's the hardest area to focus on.
They've got a coach who will back them up and will be there through the good, the bad, and the ugly in Parker. For that, this unit should turn heads this year.
"I believe in them and I think they're starting to believe in themselves and because of that they'll go out there and play well," Parker said. "And when they don't, they've got a coach that's going to stand right in front of you and say it's on me, I'll own that. We'll be better next week, wait and see. We'll move forward and play well."