By Any Means Necessary

One way Penn State wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield connects with his players is by getting actively involved at practice. In late October, he played the role of a defender while demonstrating techniques at the Lasch Practice Fields, going up against KeAndre Lambert-Smith (13) and the receiver corps. Photo credit: John Patishnock

At a quick glance, you might’ve thought Taylor Stubblefield was one of Penn State’s receivers.

The second-year position coach and Washington (state) native dropped back and leaped for the ball, just as sophomore wideout KeAndre Lambert-Smith turned back and brought in the reception beyond the outstretched arms of Stubblefield, who also doubles as Penn State’s offensive recruiting coordinator.

To clarify, Stubblefield is a receiver. One of the best in the history of the Big Ten, in fact. Stubblefield played for Purdue from 2001-04, when he amassed a mind-boggling 325 catches for 3,639 yards and 21 touchdowns. He caught 16 scores in his senior season alone. At the time when he graduated, he held the record for most receptions in the history of college football. Currently, his receptions mark ranks his sixth. His career yards were (and still are) second all time at Purdue and in the Big Ten.

In other words, Stubblefield knows what it takes to come down with a catch.

At Purdue, Stubblefield was a consensus All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, as a senior in 2004. Photo credit: John Patishnock

The scene we described above took place in late October at the Lasch Practice Fields, and Stubblefield recalled the workout when asked about it last week on a media call. Earlier in the day, before that evening’s practice, Stubblefield said he was thinking about what he wanted he and the receivers to accomplish during individual time with his position group.

There’s a “by any means necessary” mantra that the receivers use, Stubblefield said. That’s a mentality, though there’s also technique involved. And if he can get out on the field and let his receivers see in addition to hearing, there’s inherent value in that approach.

“The wide receiver position is a very demonstrable position,” Stubblefield said. “As a coach, the more that you’re able to demonstrate some things along with the talking, I think is very beneficial.”

He explained that when you look at NFL receivers who have an extremely high contested-catch percentage, subtle (or not so subtle) factors, are crucial. And speaking of the NFL: Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss became known for incorporating this approach, one where you outmaneuver the defender by technique, by motivation, or even by getting inside the defender’s head.

Tight end Tyler Warren (44) leaps for the ball as Stubblefield oversees a drill in late October. Photo credit: John Patishnock

“We have a phrase — ‘by any means necessary’ — when that ball is in the air, by any means necessary, we need to try and go get it. It is a mentality, but there is some technique, some drill work that you can do to once again put your guys in position so that they can know how to control their bodies.

“You see across the National Football League, guys that their contested catch win percentage is extremely high, and it’s because of either the way that they go back and attack the ball, it’s the way that they catch the ball and adjust in the air its the way that they move their inside shoulder in a particular way just to give themself a little bit more space from the defender so thats what that drill was about.

“And quite frankly, it’s fun. I’ll talk a little trash while I’m doing it because I want them to say, ‘You know what, I’m about to Moss Coach Stubbs right now,’ and that’s OK.”

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