Feb. 23—As the son of a longtime high school football coach in North Carolina, Ty Howle always knew he wanted to be like his father.
And once he finished his playing career at Penn State in 2013, he always knew he wanted to return to State College and coach with the Nittany Lions.
Howle, 29, realized his dream earlier this month when James Franklin hired him as tight ends coach to replace Tyler Bowen, who left to join the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff.
"It had always been a goal of mine to come back here," Howle said Tuesday during an introductory press conference. "I love this place more than anything. I had a great career here, made lifelong friends and got a degree. I owe this place so much.
"I hope through my coaching I can give back to this university. It's always been a dream of mine. I wake up every morning and pinch myself. I'm tickled. I'm excited to be here."
Howle began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at North Carolina State before accepting a full-time offer from former Penn State quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher, then the head coach at Western Illinois. He spent four seasons there and served as offensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and co-offensive coordinator.
He returned to Penn State before last season and served as an offensive analyst, handling a variety of duties to assist the full-time coaches and hoping it would eventually lead to a full-time position.
"The reason I came back here was for an opportunity like this," said Howle, who played center and guard from 2009-13. "I wanted to prepare myself for this opportunity. I didn't see it coming this quickly."
Howle has three scholarship tight ends in his position room: Brenton Strange, Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren. Redshirt sophomore Grayson Kline, who played quarterback at Wilson and Warwick, also plays tight end for the Lions.
"I'm super, super excited about all three of them," Howle said. "Brenton did a great job last year stepping in when Pat (Freiermuth) left (because of an injury). He has good short-area quickness and does some nice things with the ball in his hands.
"Theo's a guy who's looked great during winter workouts. He's a big, long strong guy who can run. He can really do some explosive things. Tyler's one of the best athletes on the team. He can really run. He's a guy who doesn't say much, but he works and competes his tail off."
When Penn State announced Howle's hiring, several of his former teammates such as John Urschel and Jesse James praised him and the move on social media.
Howle played for Penn State coaches Joe Paterno and Bill O'Brien and for offensive line coaches Dick Anderson and Mac McWhorter. But his father, who retired from coaching to see Ty play at Penn State, has had the greatest influence on him, of course.
"I wanted to be a coach when I got into high school and played for him," Howle said. "We were a small, (Class) 1A high school. I'd watch him walk the parking lot picking up trash or cutting grass. I used to paint the lines (on the football field) when I was 10 years old. I messed it up a couple times and that didn't go over too well.
"I learned a lot from that. The biggest thing is that there was never a job that was too small."
Now, David Howle's son has the biggest job of his career so far.