It has been a long Winter, Spring, and Summer waiting for Penn State Head Coach James Franklin to announce who will take over for Trace McSorley. The day has finally come, after a too-long quarterback battle, the Nittany Lions have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2016. Sean Clifford has been named the Penn State starting quarterback. The redshirt sophomore got the starting job over Will Levis, Ta’Quan Roberson, and Michael Johnson Jr. after the departure of Tommy Stevens to Mississippi State.
Sean Clifford named Penn State Starting Quarterback
Clifford is the only quarterback on the roster with actual Penn State game experience. The redshirt sophomore played in four games last season. In those four games, Clifford threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Further, he got meaningful snaps with former backup, Stevens, injured. Clifford did not just play throwaway minutes a season ago. When McSorley got injured in the bowl game against Kentucky, it was Clifford who had to step up for the Nittany Lions. Before that game against Kentucky Clifford had a perfect completion percentage against Pitt, Kent State, and Illinois. Those three games started a “Clifford for Heisman” campaign amongst Penn State students and fans.
He is not only the only quarterback on the roster with Penn State game experience but Clifford stepped immediately into a leadership role upon the departure of Stevens. According to linebacker Micah Parsons and the coaching staff, Clifford rose to a level of leadership that the team needed. He made it clear that everything would be the same and there would be no drop off at his position. He made it clear that the position was his, even if the coaching staff was not sure yet.
Where Does it Go From Here?
Now that the Nittany Lions have their quarterback, it is clear that he won’t win games alone. He needs every position on the offense to step up and help. The unit that needs to improve the most? The wide receiver group. The addition of wide receiver coach Gerad Parker will likely help. If the wide receiver unit can catch twice as many drops as they had a year ago, Clifford will be in good shape. With a veteran offensive line that has much more depth, Clifford should be protected much better than his two predecessors. Both the addition of Parker and the increased depth on the offensive line, coupled with the talent at running back, Clifford will have all of the tools to succeed. He will just have to prove that he can.