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Penn State football letterman returns to Nittany Lions in support staff role

The former Nittany Lion offensive lineman is the latest in a long line of Penn State football lettermen to return to the Lasch Building under James Franklin.



Penn State football, Andrew Nelson, James Franklin
Sep 9, 2017; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions offensive linesmen Andrew Nelson (59) defends during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Pitt 33-14. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

James Franklin is bringing back another Penn State football letterman to his staff. This week, the program announced that former Nittany Lions offensive lineman Andrew Nelson had been hired as the Director of Performance Science for Football. Nelson joins a long list of Penn State lettermen to find their way back to the Lasch Building under Franklin.

James Franklin taps Andrew Nelson for support staff role

On Thursday, Penn State football announced that former offensive lineman Andrew Nelson is rejoining the program as the Director of Performance Science. Nelson returns to Happy Valley by way of East Tennessee State, where he has been the Lead Performance Coach for Olympic Sports since 2021.

“I would like to thank Coach Franklin for this incredible opportunity,” Nelson said in the announcement. “It is a tremendous honor for me to come back to a place I love and work for an incredible program I have a lot of pride in. I look forward to working with such a great staff and tremendous group of student-athletes.”

Andrew Nelson was a four-year letterman for Penn State football under James Franklin between 2014 and 2017, making 28 starts over 33 games. Nelson was a second-team Freshman All-American in 2014, and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

After graduating from Penn State in 2017, Nelson went on to East Tennessee State, where he earned his master’s of science in sport science and coach education. He was the strength and conditioning graduate assistant coach for the Buccaneers football program between 2019 and 2021. The Hershey native is set to graduate from ETSU with a PhD in sport physiology and performance in May.

Former lineman becomes latest Penn State football letterman to join Nittany Lions staff

Andrew Nelson is the latest in a long line of Penn State football lettermen who have returned to the Lasch Building under James Franklin. Nelson is now the 14th ex-Nittany Lion on Franklin’s coaching or support staff.

Most recently, Franklin added former defensive back Jordan Lucas to his staff, who will serve as a defensive graduate assistant under Tom Allen. The most recent addition to the on-field staff is Deion Barnes, who was hired as the defensive line coach last spring. Of course, there are mainstays like Terry Smith, a member of Franklin’s staff since he arrived in Happy Valley in 2014.

However, it hasn’t been all additions of Nittany Lion letterman this offseason. In January, former standout defender Calvin Lowry left his role as an offensive analyst to take the running backs coach position at Middle Tennessee.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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