Thursday, November 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

LJ to Illinois?

Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. is expected to interview for the defensive line coach position at Illinois this weekend. LJ could also be vying for a co-defensive coordinator spot with the Illini. Illinois coach Ron Zook is also looking to replace his best recruiter, and we know how good LJ has been over the last five years snagging talent from the mid-Atlantic region.

LJ to Illinois?

Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. is expected to interview for the defensive line coach position at Illinois this weekend. LJ could also be vying for a co-defensive coordinator spot with the Illini. Illinois coach Ron Zook is also looking to replace his best recruiter, and we know how good LJ has been over the last five years snagging talent from the mid-Atlantic region.

I'm not sure if LJ would leave, however. This could just be a ploy to get more money out of notoriously-cheap Penn State or force coach Joe Paterno to promote Johnson. One scenario could have defensive coordinator Tom Bradley being named associate head coach and LJ being bumped up to defensive coordinator. I sincerely doubt that could happen. The last time Paterno named an associate head coach -- Fran Ganter in 2000 -- many of the players started to seek out Ganter instead of Paterno, and that irked the grand, old coach.

Nevertheless, if LJ can get more money out of Illinois, plus a defensive coordinator tag, it might be hard for Paterno to keep the man on board. Here's a very good story about LJ that the New York Times ran on Jan. 1. I wish I had written it, but the team isn't very forthcoming about granting interviews to its assistants to beat reporters.

Also, injured players Evan Royster (left knee), Stephfon Green (right ankle) and Dennis Landolt (left knee) are expected to recover in time to participate in spring practice come late March.

About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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