Penn State football gets new defensive coordinator

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Penn State head football coach Bill O’Brien announced today that secondary coach John Butler has been promoted to defensive coordinator.

Butler replaces Ted Roof, who was named defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, his alma mater.

During his first season on the Nittany Lions’ staff, Butler coached the defensive backs and worked with the special teams. He inherited a secondary that lost all four starters from the 2011 season and this past year helped Penn State hold six opponents to 17 points or less en route to earning an 8-4 record (6-2 Big Ten).

“John did an outstanding job with the secondary this past season and brings tremendous experience, energy and a passion for tenacious defense to the field and in the meeting room,” O’Brien stated. “John quickly developed a great relationship with all our players on defense and special teams and his ability to teach and relate to the players on and off the field will greatly assist in making this an easy transition.

“I am very appreciative of Ted’s contributions to Penn State,” O’Brien said. “Ted and I have known each other a long time and coached together at Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Ted is a great coach and person. He earned the respect of our players and they enjoyed playing for him. We wish Ted and his family well.”

A graduate of LaSalle College High School in suburban Philadelphia, Butler was instrumental in developing a secondary and special teams units that helped Penn State rank second in the Big Ten and No. 16 nationally in scoring defense (19.1 ppg). The Nittany Lions were fourth in the Big Ten in total defense and 28th nationally in pass efficiency defense.

Butler’s efforts helped sophomore cornerback Adrian Amos (Baltimore) and senior cornerback Stephon Morris (Washington, D.C.) earn honorable-mention All-Big Ten recognition this past season. Morris was fifth on the team with 60 tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss, and had five pass breaks-ups. Junior safety Malcolm Willis (Marbury, Md.) with 45 tackles, Amos (44 tkls, 2 int.) and junior safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (Bronx, N.Y.), with 41 stops, all ranked in the top 10 in tackles.

Butler’s work with sophomore placekicker Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.) helped him make his final 10 field goals of the season and rank second in Big Ten games in kick scoring (8.1 ppg) and third in field goals made (1.50 pg). Ficken was 3 of 3 on field goal attempts, including the game winner, in the overtime win over Wisconsin.

Butler came to Penn State after helping South Carolina to the greatest season in its gridiron history in 2011. He served as the Gamecocks’ special teams coordinator and coached the spur linebackers, helping South Carolina win a school record 11 games and earn its first Top 10 finish.

From 2007-10, Butler was the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Minnesota. He helped the Golden Gophers improve from a 1-11 in 2007 to 7-5 and berth in the 2008 Insight Bowl. Butler also has coached at Harvard (2003-06) and Texas State (2001-02) and was the defensive coordinator at Midwestern State (1999-2000) and Catholic University (1997). He also was a graduate assistant coach at Texas in 1997 and ’98 under John Mackovic and Mack Brown.

Butler is a graduate of Catholic University, where he played football and basketball. He and Craig Fitzgerald, Penn State Director of Strength and Conditioning for Football, attended LaSalle College High School with Keith Conlin, an All-Big Ten tackle on Penn State’s undefeated 1994 Big Ten Championship team.

Under the direction of O’Brien, the ESPN and Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year and Big Ten-Dave McClain Coach of the Year, the Nittany Lions won eight of their final 10 games, beating eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 24-21, in overtime, on Senior Day. O’Brien’s eight wins were the most by a first-year Penn State coach in the 126 years of the program.

Article Courtesy of Penn State

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.