Penn State Implements New ‘Lion’ Position For Tommy Stevens
Penn State’s Fiesta Bowl depth chart featured a new position for backup quarterback Tommy Stevens, who is now the starting “Lion.”
Upon being promoted to offensive coordinator, Ricky Rahne felt it was important to create a title that reflects Stevens’ multifaceted role for the Nittany Lions.
“It’s just one of those things that’s recognizing his unique ability to affect a football game. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to be able to use somebody with his type of talents,” Rahne said Friday.
“We’ve got to be creative in ways to get him the ball, but also make sure he’s always in a position to succeed,” he continued.
James Franklin said Stevens has even brought up the possibility of playing a little defense and special teams in the future.
“I thought it made sense to list him on here as a starter because that’s how we view him, that’s how his teammates view him,” Franklin said. “There’s really nothing off the table in terms of his opportunity to have a bigger role on our team.”
Rahne called Stevens a natural route-runner during Penn State’s bowl media day, saying he picked up receiving concepts quickly this season. He’s racked up 11 career touchdowns.
“Everything’s very natural to him,” Rahne said. “I bet he’s really good at pool. I bet he’s really good at darts. I’m sure if I put him on a golf course he’s probably going to drive the ball 315 yards right down the center with a baseball grip. That’s pretty rare, especially in today’s age of people specializing.”
Starting quarterback Trace McSorley expressed his excitement for Stevens, who put together his most complete performance to date in the regular-season finale against Maryland. The redshirt sophomore from Indianapolis scored four touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 113 yards.
“I think that’s awesome now that we’ve got a whole new position for Tommy,” McSorley said. “The type of problems he can create for a defense is different than really any other player on the field.”
McSorley is a near lock to return for his final season in State College, meaning Stevens will likely serve as his backup for a third consecutive year. Stevens is scheduled to graduate in the spring with two years of eligibility remaining, but the news of his ever-expanding role may quell any talk of a transfer.
Barring a roster shakeup, Stevens would conceivably take over the starting quarterback job as a senior in 2019. Until then, the Nittany Lions will continue to utilize their 6-foot-5 jumbo athlete in a variety of ways.
Chris Petersen’s Washington Huskies have no doubt already spent time breaking down film of Stevens, but it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll line up throughout the game in Glendale on Dec. 30.