O’Brien quick to fill coaching vacancy

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t kidding when he told the media assembled in the Lasch Building for the signing day press conference that he would fill the opening on his staff caused by the departure of Ted Roof in the very near future.

The Charleston, W.Va., Daily Mail reported on its website Wednesday evening that recently hired Marshall defensive assistant Anthony Midget was leaving to join O’Brien’s staff.

“We hire good coaches,” Thundering Herd coach Doc Holliday told the Daily Mail. “It’s a compliment to us. We hire great people and we’ll hire another great coach.”

Marshall had hired Midget on Jan. 28. He was Bill Curry’s defensive coordinator at Georgia State last season and also coached the special teams there.

Midget, 34, was an All-American defensive back at Virginia Tech who went on to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. He returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 2007.

Penn State has had an opening for the last few weeks because Roof, the team’s defensive coordinator, returned to his alma mater, Georgia Tech, to take the same position there.

Getting a ride:

Incoming walk-ons were part of the focus of O’Brien’s press conference, but those players also heard something to motivate them that they might not have to pay their own way for all four years.

O’Brien announced that at least two-former walk-ons would be receiving scholarships for 2013.

“Off the top of my head, I know Matt Lehman will be on scholarship. Ryan Keiser’s on scholarship,” O’Brien said.

A tight end, Lehman was the fourth-leading receiver on the team last year with 24 catches for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Keiser mainly contributes as the team’s holder.

UCF is official:

The Orlando Sentinel reported it two weeks ago. Now Penn State has confirmed that the Lions will host Central Florida this season, replacing the Virginia game.

The Lions will host the Golden Knights on Sept. 14.

It’s believed that the Lions will make a trip to UCF the following year, but Penn State’s press release only said that is a possibility for 2014 or 2015.

Recruiting rules:

O’Brien was asked for his opinion on the NCAA’s proposed change that would allow coaches to have almost limitless contact with prospective recruits via text and email that would start in the coming months.

“We’re just in the process of really looking at that,” O’Brien said. “We’re never going to join the ranks of the ‘Wild, Wild West.’ I can promise you that. We’re going to do things the right way at Penn State. We’re still going to try to go out there and find Penn State guys. We want tough guys, smart guys, high-character guys. That’s not going to change, but maybe the way we go about it doing it will have to change because of the less rules. We’re just about finding the right fit and developing the relationship.”