My Pick for Penn State's Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Johns

By Barry Leonard on December 19, 2019 at 8:00 am
Oct 20, 2018; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders offensive coordinator Kevin Johns before the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Moving on in our staff picks for the open offensive coordinator job at Penn State, it's time to take a look at a very interesting candidate. When Penn State lines up against Memphis in the Cotton Bowl on December 28, the Nittany Lions' next offensive coordinator could very well be on the opposite sideline. 

Current Memphis offensive coordinator Kevin Johns would be an excellent hire for Penn State. 

Previously we made the case for SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, and Ohio State passing game coordinator and QB coach Mike Yurcich


  • Name/Age - Kevin Johns/44
  • Current position - Offensive Coordinator at Memphis
  • Experience - 20  years as a wide receivers coach, running backs coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Northwestern, Richmond, Indiana, Western Michigan, Texas Tech, and Memphis. 

why i want him:

Johns makes a lot of since for what Penn State is trying to do on offense. He likes to run a spread offense with a lot of run-pass option. He also brings knowledge and experience game-planning for Big Ten defenses thanks to his time at Northwestern and Indiana. 

Recently, Johns has been in charge of some high-powered offenses that any head coach would love to have. 

During the 2017 season he lead a Western Michigan offense that racked up 390 total yards of offense per game, including 225 on the ground. The following year, Johns was at the helm of the Texas Tech attack. That season, the Red Raiders ranked No. 12 nationally with an average of 485 total yards per game. Their 364 passing yards per game came in third nationally. 

This season, Johns has continued his success as the offensive coordinator at Memphis. The Tigers are 10th in the country, averaging a total of 481 yards of offense per game. He has done a good job mixing the run and pass with Memphis averaging 285 yards through the air, and 196 yards on the ground. 

Under Johns' leadership, Memphis saw the emergence of three big-time playmakers. Quarterback Brady White passed for over 3,500 yards, while Kenneth Gainwell rushed for  over 1,400 yards. Wide receiver Damonte Coxie racked up 1,144 receiving yards. 

Just imagine what Johns could do with the likes of Sean Clifford, KJ Hamler, and Journey Brown. 

likelihood of hire: 25%

It's a bit out of the box for James Franklin, but it would give him a proven coordinator with a ton of experience. With former Memphis head coach Mike Norvell off to Florida State, there could be changes on the Tigers staff. However, with Ryan Silverfield getting the full-time gig, it would be surprising if there are significant changes. Jumping from Memphis to Penn State would be a big move for Johns, and one that he should definitely consider if the opportunity arises.