Sean Clifford Named Penn State Football’s Starting Quarterback

There’s a new sheriff in town.

Penn State football head coach James Franklin named redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford his team’s starting quarterback Friday afternoon following a summer-long position battle.

Clifford beat out redshirt freshman Will Levis for the job. He’ll replace Penn State legend and current Baltimore Raven Trace McSorley, who went 31-9 in three years as a starter after winning his own quarterback competition as a redshirt sophomore.

Although Clifford seemed like the clear favorite to earn the job as QB1 after Tommy Stevens’ transfer to Mississippi State, James Franklin had been adamant about the fact that there’d be an open competition for the job throughout the summer — even as recently as this week.

Ironically, the announcement comes a day after Stevens was named Mississippi State’s starter.

Penn State’s new starting quarterback gained valuable experience as McSorley’s backup last season while Stevens dealt with injury issues. He completed five of his seven pass attempts for 195 yards and two touchdowns — one of which was a 95-yarder to Daniel George that’s the longest touchdown pass in program history.

Clifford’s style of play underwent a near total evolution throughout the offseason. He was recruited as a four-star pocket passer out of high school, but he’s added a dual-threat dynamic to his game. Strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt said Clifford’s 40-yard dash time has decreased quite a bit earlier this offseason, and he also noted the quarterback’s increased upper-body strength that’ll allow him to take some of the punishment that comes with scrambling out of the pocket.

“I think I’ve added a whole new dual threat to my skill [set],” Clifford said after Lift for Life in July. “I’m really excited to just show it off, to be honest. This is the most confident and ready I’ve ever been in my life.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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