Penn State hosted its annual Blue-White Spring Game on April 13th this year, and few days after the game’s conclusion, presumed incumbent QB Tommy Stevens announced his intent to search for a new CFB home. Leaving Penn State fans scratching their heads.
Tommy’s search is now over.
Now that it is one-hundred percent certain that Stevens will leave Penn State, it’s officially Sean Clifford time. Very few people outside of the PSU fan base have seen what he is capable of and it leads to some obvious skepticism heading into the 2019-20 season.
Sean Clifford attended St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio and played three years of varsity football in the toughest conference in the state. His senior year, Clifford had 1426 yards, 9 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and a 52.6 completion percentage on the way to leading his team to a state championship victory. While those numbers don’t seem impressive, take into account that Sean tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder near the beginning of the season and continued to play. Naturally the coaches took some pressure off his shoulders (literally), and the offense was heavy run out of RPO sets. Sean shined well in the adjustment as he ran for over 500 yards that year.
Clifford was the leader of the 2017 Nittany Lions recruiting class, and helped reel in a pretty nice group. Rated as a four-star, Sean was the eighth best pocket passing QB in the country and came to State College expected to compete for and win the QB job in 2020, once Trace McSorley graduated and Tommy Stevens got his year. Fast forward to now and things have sped up for the young gun.
While Tommy Stevens battled with nagging foot issues all last season, Clifford was able to hold down the backup role and showed flashes of brilliance in his limited action. After missing his final two throws, he was only 5/7 on the season but had an astounding average of 27 yards per completion with a quarterback rating of almost 400. If sustained throughout a whole season those are numbers that can win you a Heisman Trophy.
For those PSU and non-PSU fans who are skeptical; There was another inexperienced redshirt sophomore quarterback stepping in three years ago by the name of Trace McSorley, and I’d say things turned out pretty well. I am not saying Sean Clifford will win the Heisman nor am I saying he will be McSorley. I am saying Penn State is in capable hands. And fans should not be too worried.