New beginnings are nothing new for Utah receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield. He’s used to learning a different offense, becoming acquainted with the players and teaching them his old tricks.
Even so, this month’s preseason camp is producing unique experiences for Stubblefield. Two receivers on the Utes’ depth chart arrived in town recently, and so did a newcomer with an old-time rock-and-roll name: Jagger Stubblefield.
Stubblefield’s coaching stops
2007 Central Washington
2008 Eastern Michigan (graduate assistant)
2009-10 Illinois State
2011 Central Michigan
2012 New Mexico
2013 Wake Forest
2014 Eastern Michigan/Utah
The first child of the coach and his wife, Georgia, was born July 23. He’s not necessarily a tribute to the Rolling Stones singer — "We just liked the name," Stubblefield said — although a girl would have been named Lennon, in honor of the Beatles performer.
As far as little Jagger knows, after three weeks of existence, football coaching is a stable profession.
His parents would contest that statement. Utah represents Stubblefield’s eighth job in eight seasons. Since marrying him in 2010, Georgia has moved four times — not even counting the six days in February when her husband worked at Eastern Michigan before agreeing to fill Utah’s vacancy.
And now, the couple is adjusting again, with a new addition to the household. "Just trying to balance life and work," Stubblefield said after a recent practice. "It makes it a little tough during fall camp, but this is the life we signed up for."
Stubblefield says he never was looking for another job when any of these openings materialized. But the moves all made sense at the time, whether for the sake of joining one of his former Purdue coaches at New Mexico or moving to the Power 5 level at Wake Forest. He’d latched onto Eastern Michigan after being unemployed when the Wake Forest staff was let go in December, only to have both Utah and Pittsburgh call him about their vacancies.
The opportunity with the Utes was "something I couldn’t pass up," Stubblefield said.
He can partly thank BYU. The Cougars’ rout of Texas last September played a role in the eventual retirement of coach Mack Brown, which ultimately resulted in 103 coaching moves around the country. For instance, Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning took a job with the new Texas staff, so former Ute quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson moved to MSU. Stubblefield’s position opened up when Utah coach Kyle Whittingham moved Aaron Roderick from receivers to quarterbacks.
So here he is, working with veteran receivers Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott and junior college transfers Kaelin Clay and Tim Patrick, who were not on campus for spring practice and now are listed No. 2 at their positions. Their acclimation appears to be going well, to Stubblefield’s credit. Patrick, a walk-on, was Utah’s leading receiver in Tuesday’s scrimmage with six catches for 81 yards.
The receivers have answered one of Whittingham’s biggest personnel questions coming into the camp, catching on "very quickly," he said, citing Clay, Patrick and freshman Kendric Young.
Stubblefield, 32, is making a good impression on his players. "He’s a fun guy; he’s always trying to have fun with us," Anderson said. "He works us hard. He makes sure he looks at all the little details. He’s not looking at the big picture, he’s looking at all the little things to get you better."
Those little elements are supposed to add up to big numbers — if not necessarily the 316 catches and 3,629 yards that Stubblefield personally produced at Purdue from 2001 to 2004 as the Big Ten’s No. 2 all-time receiver. But the Ute receivers undoubtedly will do more statistically than the New Mexico or Wake Forest receivers did the past two seasons in run-oriented offenses.
Stubblefield wants his guys to be disciplined, competitive and the team’s most consistent players. Such performance just might keep their coach in one place for a while.
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