A Look at the New Penn State Football Coaches
There are several new faces in Happy Valley heading into the 2020 season. Head Coach James Franklin had a lot of turn over this offseason with many coaches leaving for promotions. So, let’s take a look at the new Penn State Football coaches.
Kirk Ciarrocca: Offensive Coordinator
Coach Ciarrocca comes to Penn State from Big Ten West opponent Minnesota. Ciarrocca is taking over for longtime Offensive Coordinator, Ricky Rahne, who took the Head Coaching job at Old Dominion shortly before the bowl game against Memphis. The new offensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions is a Red Land, PA native that took the Big Ten by storm a season ago. His offense also bested a very solid Penn State defense. Ciarrocca had the Gopher offense ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total offense and scoring. Further, something that is good for Penn State, he had two 1,000 yard receivers. This is something that the Nittany Lions need desperately.
Taylor Stubblefield – Wide Receivers
Taylor Stubblefield has become the fourth wide receiver coach for Penn State in four seasons. The turnover at the position has not boasted well for a unit that has seen a drop in overall production in the last few seasons. Stubblefield is replacing Gerad Parker who took the Offensive Coordinator position at West Virginia University. Stubblefield is no stranger to the Big Ten. He was the NCAA leading receiver out of Purdue in 2004. He held the record until 2011 when it was broken at Oklahoma. Stubblefield has been a player in the NFL and the CFL. Further, he has had several wide receiver coaching positions, most recently at the University of Miami. While Miami struggled offensively in 2019, Stubblefield still had three players have solid seasons, catching 30 or more passes. Penn State has a solid offensive line and a quarterback with experience, so Stubblefield should be able to repeat this production with the Nittany Lions.
Phil Trautwein – Offensive Line
The New Jersey native is taking over for Coach Limegrover at the offensive line position. Limegrover built a solid foundation for Coach Trautwein to build off of over the last few seasons. Trautwein was the offensive line coach at Boston College for the last two seasons. The Eagles had two bowl berths in those seasons as well as five starting linemen receiving All-ACC honors. Under Trautwein, Boston College was ranked third in FBS with only 11 sacks allowed in 2019. In addition, the Eagles ranked fifth in rushing offense amongst FBS teams a season ago. The Nittany Lions allowed 32 sacks last season and even with four solid running backs, Penn State ranked 36th in rushing offense. Under Trautwein, the Nittany Lions will look to improve drastically in both categories.
John Scott Jr. – Defensive Line
It was a sad, yet exciting day, when Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer was hired by the New York Giants in the NFL. Sad because the Nittany Lions will now be without one of the best coaches on staff. Exciting because if any of the Penn State coaches deserve this jump it is Coach Spencer. Now, everyone must move on, but not forget the lessons he taught the players, and the fans. This is where John Scott Jr. comes in. Scott Jr. is the new defensive line coach at Penn State. He is a former colleague of current Nittany Lion Defensive Coordinator Brent Pry. Due to this, he understands what it means to take over this unit. Penn State ranks seventh in team sacks and 11th in team tackles for loss. Scott Jr. understands the task ahead of him, in an interview with Penn State’s in-house media team, he stated, “But, the big thing, is you want to continue the tradition of what they’ve established here and just keep building and making this thing better.”
Scott Jr. comes to Happy Valley after serving a season in the same position at South Carolina. He also worked in the NFL, at Arkansas, and for Coach Pry at Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia Southern. Even though the “Wild Dogs” nickname will go with Coach Spencer, Scott Jr. isn’t losing that mentality for the group. He ended his interview with Mitch Gerber by saying, “We want to be that group that’s able to make plays to change games and that’s what they’ve done the last five, six, seven years,” he said. “They’ve been really good, so we want to continue that tradition and carry it on.” Only time will tell, but this group seems to be in good hands.
The Nittany Lions are getting two familiar faces as graduate assistants this upcoming season. Deion Barnes and Wendy Laurent have both been added to the staff. Barnes was a defensive end for Penn State and was named Big Ten freshman of the Year in 2012. He was also a First-Team Freshman All-American. Barnes comes back to the Nittany Lions after spending three seasons coaching his former high school where he was the defensive coordinator in 2019.
Laurent arrived in Happy Valley the same year as Barnes and was an offensive lineman. Laurent helped lead the Big Ten Championship team his senior year. Further, Laurent was a graduate assistant at the University of Buffalo a season ago.
New Penn State Football Coaches Recap
There may still be new Penn State football coaches before the season starts, but these are the main ones that have been added since the 2019 season ended. It will be interesting to see what new and old faces can bring to a team that fans have high hopes for in 2020.