STATE COLLEGE — Penn State welcomed its third wide receivers coach in as many years when the Nittany Lions introduced Taylor Stubblefield in January.
The former Purdue All-American replaced Gerad Parker, who became West Virginia’s offensive coordinator after a one-year stint in Happy Valley.
Stubblefield arrives in Happy Valley after spending the 2019 season as Miami’s wide receivers coach.
“It’s been an adjustment for the new guys because this hasn’t been the normal transition for them,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “Obviously, guys like Taylor, (offensive line coach Phil) Trautwein and (defensive line coach John) Scott, it’s been a big adjustment like it always is, but this has made it a little more complicated.”
The 14-year coaching veteran will be tasked with rehabilitating a position group that has been plagued over the past few seasons with inconsistencies. Furthermore, Penn State will forge ahead into the 2020 season without KJ Hamler, who led the Nittany Lions in yards receiving over the last two seasons. Hamler was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round of May's NFL draft.
Penn State accumulated 2,877 yards receiving in 2019, with 721 yards of those yards coming on receptions by tight ends Pat Freiermuth and Nick Bowers. Penn State running backs Journey Brown, Ricky Slade — who transferred in December) — Noah Cain and Devyn Ford added another 321 yards receiving.
Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson enters his junior season as the de facto leader of the group. Dotson ranked third last season in yards receiving with 488 on 27 receptions (18.07 yards per catch). He added five touchdowns.
Dotson posted a career-high 109 yards receiving to go with two touchdowns in Penn State’s Week 2 win against Buffalo last year, and he tallied 79 and 70 yards receiving against Purdue and Minnesota, respectively, in a pair of breakout games.
“I haven’t had a ton of time to work with him, but seeing what he’s been doing now, what we did in winter workouts, I really do believe that he is progressing to have a big season,” Stubblefield said of Dotson. “I’m excited for him; I’m excited for the whole group.”
Outside of Dotson, the position group’s depth becomes a little murky. Former five-star receiver Justin Shorter transferred to Florida, and Mac Hippenhammer has since departed for Miami (Ohio).
Penn State returns three other wideouts who tallied receiving yards in 2019 in redshirt sophomore Daniel George, redshirt junior Cam Sullivan-Brown and senior Isaac Lutz.
George led the trio with 100 yards receiving on nine receptions. Sullivan-Brown posted 56 yards receiving in four games, while Lutz accumulated 15 yards on one reception.
Redshirt freshman John Dunmore arrived at Penn State last season as a four-star prospect. Dunmore played in one game last season but didn’t record any receiving statistics.
The Nittany Lions also signed a handful of receivers in the 2020 receiving class in KeAndre Lambert (Norfolk, Virginia), Jaden Dottin (Suffield, Connecticut), Parker Washington (Richmond, Texas), Malick Meiga (Montreal, Canada) and junior college transfer Norval Black (Scranton).
Washington, Dottin and Lambert garnered four-star designation by 247Sports, while Meiga and Black were listed as three-star prospects.
Stubblefield said he believes a reliable complement to Dotson will emerge from his group.
“I can see quite a few of the guys stepping up, and that’s still what’s kind of unknown, as far as who might have a head start over somebody else,” Stubblefield said. “There’s some talent in that room. There are some guys in there who really want to be great. It’s really going to challenge them over this period of time to see who is learning the playbook the way they need to learn it.”