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Recent Recruiting Success Validates Penn State Football Wide Receivers Coach Marques Hagans’ Hiring

The early days of 2023 were nothing short of eventful for Penn State football.

Penn State defeated Utah on January 2 in a historic Rose Bowl victory. The occasion was momentous for the program as it was just the second time in school history that the Nittany Lions won college football’s most famous bowl game.

Just 13 days later, James Franklin fired his wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield. Stubblefield’s removal from the program came as a surprise to many, and he was released just one year after he developed former Penn State wideout Jahan Dotson into a first-round NFL pick.

Dotson’s success wasn’t enough for Franklin to keep his assistant around, and in the days after Stubblefield’s firing, outlets reported that Stubblefield’s departure was chalked up to recruiting struggles. Franklin’s become known for his recruiting strength, and he wanted his whole coaching staff to juggle bringing in fresh blood and training the group’s veterans.

Eight days after Stubblefield was fired, Franklin hired his new wide receiver coach, Marques Hagans from Virginia.

Lots of recruiting work had already been completed when Hagans arrived in Happy Valley by way of heralded wide receiver transfer Dante Cephas’ previous commitment. The same could be said for fellow transfer Malik McClain and veterans KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Trey Wallace.

All of this meant that Penn State couldn’t identify Hagans’ recruiting talent. Until now.

Hagans, and Penn State, had been slow on the recruiting trail for wide receivers. The program snagged five offensive linemen, and lost one, from the recruiting Class of 2024 all before it earned a verbal commitment from a true pass catcher.

It wasn’t until June 21 that Hagans landed his first recruit in Tyseer Denmark, a four-star flip from Oregon. Denmark’s commitment alone was massive for Penn State, meaning that the program had secured the top three players in Pennsylvania as Denmark sat behind Quinton Martin and Cooper Cousins in the 247Sports composite rankings.

Two days later, Hagans picked up two more wide receivers from the same class. Four-star Josiah Brown, who was listed as an athlete but recruited by Hagans, and three-star Peter Gonzalez gave Hagans enough to say that he filled out a class in his first year on the job.

Between his three wideouts, and Martin, who was recruited as a running back but recently seen running routes and putting defensive backs on their backs, Hagans has a strong core to work with from the recruiting class. He may not be done yet as another four-star recruit at the position isn’t a remote possibility between now and signing day.

Penn State fans won’t directly see the fruits of Hagans’ recruiting strength for some time, and it’ll be at least another year before any of these recruits touch the grass on Beaver Stadium for an official NCAA game. However, the recruiting stars seem to prove that he was a strong choice for Franklin.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He covers Penn State football, among other Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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