• Johnson: ‘I have everything that I want here’

    Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson, one of the two holdovers from Joe Paterno’s staff, said Thursday that he no longer has a
    burning desire to become a head coach one day.

    “I’m a very simple guy,” he said. “I know what I want to do. Being a head coach may not be the thing that satisfies me, and that’s OK. Coaching the d-line is what I do and I’m OK with that.

    “I’m not putting out applications. State College is a great town, a great place. I’m close to my grandkids. I have everything that I want here.”

    The 60-year-old Johnson has been on the staff since 1996. He’s coached several defensive linemen who have gone on to play in the NFL and has been one of the Nittany Lions’ most effective recruiters.

    He’s coached seven first-team All-Americans at Penn State, all of whom went on to the play in the NFL: Devon Still, Jared Odrick, Aaron Maybin, Tamba Hali, Michael Haynes, Jimmy Kennedy and Courtney Brown. Still (Cincinnati), Odrick (Miami), Maybin (New York Jets) and Hali (Kansas City) remain active.

    Johnson said he considered getting out of coaching after Paterno was fired last November in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. But when he met new head coach Bill O’Brien, he changed his mind and accepted O’Brien’s offer to stay on the staff.

    “I felt I owed it to the guys in my room (the defensive linemen) to talk to Coach O’Brien,” he said. “We talked about football and our personal beliefs. We had the same ideas and same beliefs in Penn State University.

    “I’m glad I’m here because I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

    Johnson had interviewed for the defensive coordinator’s job at Illinois a few years ago, but he withdrew his name.

    “I don’t want to sound like a cornball,” he said, “but I’m really happy here at Penn State. I’m really happy coaching the players here in my room. I’m happy without the head coach title attached to my name.”

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