KJ Hamler

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Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

Penn State hires wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield from Miami

Taylor Stubblefield, who played at Purdue, is joining the Penn State coaching staff as a receivers coach.
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The search for a new wide receivers coach at Penn State may be over. Penn State is expected to name Taylor Stubblefield as its next receivers coach, according to multiple reports. Penn State announced the new hire Sunday afternoon, following multiple reports suggesting the hire was imminent.

“We are excited to have Taylor, Georgia and Jagger join our Penn State family,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said in a released statement. “Taylor has a strong familiarity with the Big Ten Conference. He was an elite wide receiver as an All-American at Purdue, setting NCAA, Big Ten and school receiving records, some of which he still holds today. He will bring his passion and knowledge to our young wide receiver room. Taylor has a wide range of experiences as a coach, both at the college and professional levels. Taylor really separated himself during the interview process and we are thrilled about the future of our wide receivers under his guidance.”

Stubblefield spent the 2019 season as a wide receivers coach for the Miami Hurricanes. Stubblefield was one of the final pieces of the coaching staff assembled by Manny Diaz in his first season as head coach. He has had a number of coaching stops in his career, including stints with Central Michigan, New Mexico, Wake Forest, Utah, and Air Force. Stubblefield also coached one season in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts. He previously played in the CFL for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on two occasions.

Stubblefield played wide receiver for Purdue, where he earned All-American recognition as a key piece of the Boilermakers offense coached by Joe Tiller. Stubblefield set an NCAA record for most career receptions (325), which lasted for seven years before Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles broke the record in 2011 (349). Stubblefield currently sits sixth all-time in career receptions. Having a coach who set an NCAA record for most career receptions while playing in the Big Ten should come in handy for a Penn State offense that is in need of improved receiving ability. With KJ Hamler off to the NFL, Penn State has a need to have solid and reliable receiving options to go with returning tight end Pat Freiermuth.

Stubblefield is the latest change to the Penn State offensive coaching staff this offseason. He replaces Gerad Parker as receivers coach after Parker left Penn State to be the new offensive coordinator at West Virginia. Penn State hired Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca to replace Ricky Rahne, who left his role as offensive coordinator to become the new head coach at Old Dominion. Penn State then hired Boston College offensive line coach Phil Trautwein to replace Matt Limegrover.

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth announces his return in 2020

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Not long after Penn State put the finishing touches on a 10-win regular season with a sluggish win against Rutgers, Penn State got some very good news for the 2020 season. Tight end Pat Freiermuth announced he will return to the Nittany Lions for another season.

Freiermuth announced his decision with a statement on his Twitter account on Saturday evening.

“In the past couple weeks, it has come to light that I am able to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft,” Freiermuth said, referring to recent stories confirming he would be eligible for the NFL Draft if he chose to declare early. “After discussing the opportunity with my family, coaches and other loved ones, I have decided to return to Pen State for my junior year.”

“The brotherhood and family atmosphere in this program is something that I am not ready to leave,” Freierrmuth said. “The culture Coach [James Franklin] and the staff have created here is something very special and I love being part of it.”

The return of Freiermuth is a big one for Penn State. Considered one of the top tight ends in the Big Ten, if not the country despite being left off the semifinalist list for the John Mackey Award, Freiermuth had 41 catches for 468 yards and seven touchdowns this season for the Nittany Lions, all good for second on the team behind speedy wide receiver KJ Hamler.

No. 9 Penn State grinds out win vs. Indiana to improve to 9-1, Buckeyes up next

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A week after suffering its first loss, No. 9 Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) didn’t exactly rebound in crisp fashion at home against Indiana (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) on Saturday. But after 60 minutes of play, the Nittany Lions will take a win any way they can as they get set for a massive test next week. A late touchdown run by Sean Clifford provided the much-needed breathing room as Penn State fought for a 34-27 victory.

After Indiana trimmed Penn State’s lead to 27-24 in the fourth quarter, Penn State orchestrated an 18-play drive that shaved off over nine minutes of game clock. Clifford ended the drive by pushing across the goal line for a touchdown to create a late two-score game. Clifford lost a fumble in the game but did not throw an interception a week after being picked off three times. Clifford ended his day with 179 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Nick Bowers, and Clifford added 54 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the victory.

Penn State also had another 100-yard day from running back Journey Brown (21 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown) and two big catches from tight end Pat Freiermuth (although no touchdowns). Penn State lost wide receiver KJ Hamler to an apparent head injury in the first half. His status moving forward will now be in some question.

Indiana also lost its top playmaker with receiver Whop Philyor leaving the game late in the first half. Peyton Ramsey and the Hoosiers still managed to make some plays to keep drives alive (Ramsey passed for 371 yards and a touchdown and scored two touchdowns on the ground), and a pair of special teams mishaps didn’t help in the effort. Philyor muffed a punt in the first quarter that ultimately led to a Penn State touchdown (although video replay showed he may not have touched the ball, but not strong enough to overturn the call on the field), and one of the worst fake punt attempts was quickly turned into a big Penn State touchdown in the third quarter.

Next up for Penn State is a big one. The Nittany Lions travel to Columbus, Ohio next week to take on Ohio State. The undefeated Buckeyes (barring a monumental upset on the road at Rutgers today) will be the biggest test of the year for a Penn State team that has had room for improvement across the board the last few weeks. First place in the Big Ten East will be on the line, and there is a chance Ohio State could wrap up the division with a win. Penn State needs to win to have a shot at the Big Ten championship and to remain in the playoff race heading into the final game of the regular season.

Indiana will play its final home game of the season next week when they host Michigan.

Penn State leading Indiana despite sluggish first-half effort

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A week after giving up the first two first-quarter touchdowns of the season, Penn State’s defense was unable to lock things down early against Indiana. Despite a tough first quarter, Penn State leads the Hoosiers 20-14 at halftime in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive for one more week.

Both teams seem to have lost their biggest playmakers in the first half. KJ Hamler had his helmet taken away on the sideline after appearing to land on his head awkwardly at the end of a kickoff return. Indiana’s Whop Philyor was taken to the sideline medical tent after being hit hard and fumbling in the second quarter. There was no targeting on the play, which was confirmed by the video replay review during a timeout. Without their top wide receivers, neither offense has looked particularly sharp despite a back-and-forth first quarter.

Sean Clifford rushed for a 38-yard touchdown and completed a touchdown pass to tight end Nick Bowers in the first quarter, but the offense has had a tough time keeping things going against Indiana. Hamler had 52 yards on two receptions before leaving the game, and he remains the leading receiver for Penn State. Philyor had 50 yards on two receptions as well. The bigger concern for Penn State has been the pass defense, which struggled against Minnesota last week and has its hands full against the top-ranked passing offense in the conference.

Peyton Ramsey and the Hoosiers are hanging around and will get the ball to start the second half.