Longtime Penn State football coach Joe Paterno recalled Mark D’Onofrio as a strong leader when the former Nittany Lions linebacker played for him from 1988-1991. He also remembered that D’Onofrio, Temple’s defensive coordinator last season, wasn’t the easiest player to handle.
“D’Onofrio used to drive me nuts because of his temper,” Paterno said after the Nittany Lions defeated Temple in November. “I was kidding him before the game . . . I said, ‘Mark, you’re the only guy I threw out [of practice] before stretch.'”
The 39-year-old North Bergen, N.J. native has come a long way since then.
On Friday, D’Onofrio was promoted to assistant head coach, while retaining his role of defensive coordinator and gaining additional administrative duties.
Two days later, quarterbacks coach Matt Rhule and Andrew Dees, the tight ends and offensive guards coach, also received promotions. Rhule, who will continue operating as quarterbacks coach, was named offensive coordinator, replacing George DeLeone, who resigned after two seasons as the Owls’ offensive architect to become tight end coach for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Dees will be in charge of the offensive line after serving as tight ends and offensive guards coach the past two seasons.
Under D’Onofrio, the Owls led the Mid-American Conference in five defensive statistical categories in the team’s inaugural season in the MAC.
“What Mark has done with our defense between years one and two is truly exceptional; considering that we did not have any seniors on the depth chart,” coach Al Golden said in a statement. Golden and D’Onofrio were teammates at Penn State and coached together at Virginia.
“Coach D’Onofrio is a brilliant coach, a tremendous motivator of young men, and widely considered amongst the best recruiters in the business,” Golden said.
Rhule, who played at Penn State from 1994-1997, has a “tremendous overall conceptual knowledge of football,” DeLeone said.
“He can continue and exceed the foundation that has been laid in the prior two years on the offensive side of the ball,” DeLeone added.
Dees, 38, a three-year starter at Syracuse from 1988-1991, also received praise from the former offensive coordinator.
“Without question, he is the right choice to move Temple’s offensive line to championship level play,” DeLeone said.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.