Defensive line coach Larry Johnson will take over as interim head coach at Penn State during the search to replace Bill O'Brien, according to a report Wednesday by the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.
O'Brien is leaving for the NFL to take the vacant head-coaching job with the Houston Texans, multiple media outlets reported.
Johnson's primary job will be to hold the Nittany Lions' 2014 recruiting class together until a successor to O'Brien is named, according to Pennlive.com.
The leading contenders to replace O'Brien are Miami coach Al Golden and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Pennlive.com reported. Other names mentioned include former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak.
Golden and Munchak are former Penn State players.
O'Brien came to Penn State two years ago from the New England Patriots in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and compiled a 15-9 record in two seasons as Joe Paterno's successor. He was named Big Ten coach of the year in 2012.
Johnson has served on Penn State's staff for 18 years and for the past 14 as the defensive line coach. One of his sons, Larry Jr., played at Penn State and was a two-time All-Pro with the Kansas City Chiefs.