Former Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis is taking over as offensive coordinator at Maryland. CENTRE DAILY TIMES PHOTO via ASSOCIATED PRESS
Maryland hired an offensive coordinator on Thursday, and it’s a name you’re going to know.
According to a report by Alabama’s Rivals.com site, former Penn State receivers coach Josh Gattis, who spent last season in the same role at Alabama, was brought on board by new Terrapins head coach Mike Locksley, who worked with Gattis last season when he was the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator.
Alabama's Josh Gattis to join Mike Locksley's staff at Marylandhttps://t.co/M2qkk1H0rs
— Tony Tsoukalas (@Tony_Tsoukalas) January 10, 2019
We have talked a lot about Gattis here over the years, because he had a pretty noticeable impact on the Penn State program during his four years as an assistant to James Franklin. He developed solid receiver after solid receiver after solid receiver who went on to the NFL, and he was a heck of a recruiter. He was one of the chief recruiters in on guys like K.J. Hamler and Justin Shorter and Shaka Toney and Daniel George.
He could spot the top talent, and he could bring it to Happy Valley. That’s part of the reason Alabama jumped at the chance to get him last year, and it’s a big reason why Penn State is going to be at least moderately concerned about the tag team of Gattis and Locksley on the recruiting trail, and should be.
Of course, Penn State likes to hit the talent-rich Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas hard. So does Ohio State and Michigan and Rutgers and, well, every other big-time program. But Penn State does business well there, and that has especially been the case since Franklin took over.
Maryland’s attraction to Locksley — who incidentally is 3-31 in his career as a head coach — has everything to do with his ability to recruit the DMV area. And, Gattis did pretty well recruiting for Penn State in Philadelphia and New Jersey and into the DMV.
Is it likely Maryland will start to lure every big-time recruit out of that area away from Penn State and other programs? Hardly.
Is it likely Maryland can expand its recruiting area and cut into some talent that certainly would have otherwise gone to Penn State? I’d say it’s worth watching, and perhaps “likely” isn’t too strong a word.
With the rarest of exceptions, most every coaching hire is a move for the future. But you also have to wonder what this does for Maryland in the very near term. This is not a team devoid of weapons on offense, but it can use a durable quarterback after a string of injuries doomed them at the position over the last handful of years.
You might have heard that a pretty good quarterback has put his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal. And, that pretty good quarterback played in Locksley’s offense last season, and certainly got to know Gattis a bit. The only school we’ve heard with certainty is looking to add Jalen Hurts for his graduate transfer season so far is TCU, but that’s going to be a competitive race, and you have to wonder if the familiarity of Locksley’s offense, the addition of Gattis to run it and the opportunity to be in the Big Ten spotlight every week makes Maryland a big player with him.
Either way, wouldn’t it be enlightening to give James Franklin some truth serum and ask him exactly what he thinks of Gattis being back in the Big Ten East? This had to be a tough one for him, because Gattis clearly had some ambition to be an offensive coordinator and didn’t believe that opportunity would come for him at Penn State.
There have been a few coaches over the years who have left programs in lateral moves hoping they help push them over the top, and the decision does not pay off. It paid off big-time for Gattis, though. He’s probably not Maryland’s offensive coordinator today if he stayed on as Penn State’s receivers coach.
Look, I’d have hired Ricky Rahne to be the offensive coordinator when Joe Moorhead left if that was my decision. He’s a solid coach. He has paid his dues. He has been patient. He has done whatever was asked of him, switching jobs on the staff at times to help others (namely Moorhead) fit in to their strengths. He’s also a terrific recruiter. And I don’t think he did a bad job in his first go-round last season.
But hiring Rahne cost you Gattis, if you’re Franklin. Which is one thing if Gattis is the receivers coach at Alabama but totally another if he’s running an opposing offense in your division and trying to convince recruits on the trail that your program isn’t for them. There’s always going to be that comparison wafting through the air for the fans and the media to sniff, and that could add some pressure to a situation for Franklin and Rahne that quite frankly had only speculation until Thursday.