Penn State Backup Quarterbacks Show Unique Culture In Happy Valley
Penn State fans are a unique group, often in the best of ways. There are the outstanding displays of coordination like the White Out and student tickets selling out in just a few minutes every summer.
In this particular instance, the Penn State faithful are making what could be an awkward quarterback situation into a show of unbridled support for Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford.
While Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide had a rollercoaster summer with speculation swirling around the quarterback situation, Trace McSorley has had the starting spot locked down since the 2016 preseason.
Still, Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford have to be the most beloved backups in all of college football.
Part of the credit here should go to head coach James Franklin. After Christian Hackenberg graduated, there was an open and honest competition at quarterback throughout the summer. McSorley won the starting job, and Franklin made that clear.
This summer, on the other hand, Nick Saban literally became a meme after getting visibly upset with ESPN sideline reporter Maria Taylor when she asked about the ongoing competition between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. Saban clearly didn’t handle his quarterback competition in the same way, and it backfired.
Picking one guy over another is no easy task, especially in the business of managing and maintaining a strong locker room. Franklin must have done a pretty good job, though, because Tommy Stevens chose to stick around in Happy Valley, knowing that McSorley will be at the helm in 2018.
Stevens took a look around at some other schools after Penn State’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Washington, but decided that Penn State was the place for him. If you needed any indication of how much the blue and white faithful love Franklin’s second-string quarterback, just take a look at the engagement on his tweet announcing his decision to stay:
Stevens clearly has the talent to lead Penn State in the future. In 2017, he went 14-for-27 through the air for 158 yards and three touchdowns. Against Maryland, he ran the ball 12 times for 113 yards and three touchdowns.
That’s not even mentioning Sean Clifford, who might actually be the best quarterback ever. Lukas from Twitter knows the deal:
Clifford is 4-for-4 on his career for 151 yards and two touchdowns. The Ohio native set the record for the longest touchdown in Penn State history against Kent State.
Even James Franklin is hopping on the bandwagon.
This is all to say that Penn State fans have created a culture of getting behind role players and young talent. Although neither Stevens nor Clifford are likely to contribute heavily this season, their roles have been laid out from the beginning.
Franklin didn’t tiptoe around any decisions or leave room for controversy, which is exactly what has allowed these two quarterbacks to shine when they get onto the field.
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