APTOPIX Rose Bowl Football

Penn State cornerback Kalen King (4) intercepts a pass against Utah wide receiver Devaughn Vele (17) during the first half in the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Pasadena, Calif.

It seemed, briefly, as if there was a chance Penn State football could have a quiet offseason in terms of turnover on the coaching staff.

"There's a lot of moving parts left, … but I'm hopeful that we will retain the majority if not all the staff,’’ coach James Franklin said last month.

That lasted 13 days, from when the Nittany Lions beat Utah in the Rose Bowl until Sunday’s announcement that wide receivers’ coach Taylor Stubblefield had been fired.

Stubblefield and Franklin issued the usual diplomatic statements acknowledging the move Sunday.

Stubblefield was hired in 2020 to replace Gerad Parker, who had been hired as offensive coordinator at West Virginia. Stubblefield has been coaching since 2007 after a brilliant playing career at Purdue, where he set the NCAA record for career receptions (325).

Stubblefield also had the title of Offensive Recruiting Coordinator, which is ironic since Penn State picked up a commitment from transfer WR Dante Cephas an hour after Stubblefield’s ouster was announced.

Cephas, 6-1, 175, is from Pittsburgh’s Penn Hills High. With new Penn State teammates Daequan Hardy and Tank Smith, he was part of the Penn Hills team that beat Manheim Central for the 2018 Class 5A state title.

Cephas had at least nine offers while in the portal, including from Georgia, Notre Dame and Miami. He has two years of eligibility remaining. He was considered one of the top players, and perhaps the top WR, in the portal.

It is possible Cephas committed not knowing who his position coach would be, or thinking it would be Stubblefield?

Franklin no doubt has a file of potential replacements for Stubblefield, but one name seems almost too obvious: Bobby Engram, the former Penn State all-American WR who was just replaced as Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator by new head coach Luke Fickell.

Wide receivers coaches generally consider themselves offensive coordinators-in-waiting. Ohio State, for example, just promoted WR coach and elite recruiter Brian Hartline to OC, after OC Kevin Wilson left to become head coach at Tulsa.

Franklin admitted displeasure in 2017, when his WR coach, Josh Gattis, went to Alabama in what was nominally a lateral move, although going to Alabama arguably makes it a promotion.

It could also be argued that Gattis thought Franklin should have named him Penn State’s OC. He has since been the OC at Michigan and, currently, Miami.

Would Engram consider Wisconsin OC-to-Penn State position coach plus (insert title here) a demotion?

For what it’s worth, Penn State last week hired former defensive back Calvin Lowry as an offensive analyst and assistant wide receivers coach.

The current first string at WR likely includes Cephas, returning starter Keandre Lambert-Smith and sophomore Harrison Wallace III, who had 17 receptions for 226 yards in 2022.

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