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Brent Pry discusses what James Franklin taught him at Penn State

In a recent interview, Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry discussed the valuable lessons he learned about being a head coach from James Franklin while on the Penn State football staff.



James Franklin, Brent Pry, Penn State Football, Virginia Tech football
Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Brent Pry looks on against the Illinois Fighting Illini during overtime at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There are very few names remaining from the original Penn State football coaching staff that James Franklin brought from Vanderbilt to Happy Valley in 2014. Though most coaches moved on within a few seasons at Penn State, one of the longest-tenured assistants from that staff was current Virginia Tech football coach Brent Pry. Undoubtedly, Pry’s decade of service with James Franklin helped shape how he runs his own program now. In a recent interview, Pry discussed what critical head coaching skills he learned from Franklin while at Penn State. 

Brent Pry talks about what he learned from James Franklin while on the Penn State football staff

Brent Pry originally joined James Franklin’s coaching staff at Vanderbilt in 2011. An Altoona native, Pry returned home to serve as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach when Franklin took the Penn State job in 2014. Pry became the sole defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions when Bob Shoop left for Tennessee following the 2015 season. He would remain in that role through the 2021 season when he left to become the head coach of the Virginia Tech football program, where he served as a graduate assistant under Frank Beamer.

With eight seasons in Happy Valley, Brent Pry was one of James Franklin’s longest-tenured assistant coaches at Penn State. Pry was only outlasted by Terry Smith, who is still on staff, and Dwight Galt III, who retired last year. In that time, Pry learned first-hand from Franklin what it takes to be a head coach of a Power Five program. In a recent interview on the Next Up with Adam Breneman podcast, Pry discussed the most valuable aspects of being a head coach that he learned from Franklin while at Penn State.

“I think there are two things that jump out to me,” Pry said when asked what he learned from Franklin. “Recruiting at a very high level, and what that really looks like — the details and the specifics and the investment in recruiting a young man and the family. And then if there’s an argument to be made, he always compiled a ton of research and data to make sure it was a fair and just argument. I always respected that, and I think it’s one of the reasons he’s able to move the needle as much as he has and to get decisions made for his program.”

Pry is still in the middle of a rebuild of the Virginia Tech football program. The Hokies went 3-8 during his first season in Blacksburg. With a top 50 class signed in 2023 and a top 35 class underway for 2024, only time will tell if Pry can produce similar results at Virginia Tech to what Franklin has done at Penn State.

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A third-generation Penn Stater, Matt is Editor-in-Chief for Basic Blues Nation, co-host of the podcast PSU Tailgate Talk, and a credentialed member of the Penn State football media. Matt also works as a staffer in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Matt lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and a small army of pets.