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Sean Clifford As Confident As Ever Entering The 2019 Season As Captain And QB1

“He’s earned everybody’s respect.”

James Franklin’s words were short and sweet when discussing redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford Wednesday night. Franklin named Clifford as the starter last week and seems plenty confident in his decision as the Nittany Lions prepare for their match-up against Idaho on Saturday.

What may have been more surprising to fans was Clifford being named a team captain. Out of eight captains, he’s one of three on the offensive side of the ball along with tight end Pat Freiermuth and center Michael Menet.

According to Franklin, the young quarterback “dominated” the voting for the role, so the head coach was left with no choice but to give him that honor. While being a captain as a first-year starter may sound daunting, Clifford has plenty of trust in himself to get the job done and understands just how much it means.

“That’s definitely the biggest accomplishment I’ve had at Penn State — maybe my life,” Clifford said. “It’s very humbling for me to be given that name by my team. I’m very excited to be holding that role.”

Clifford gained some experience on the field last season as a redshirt freshman. He made the vast majority of his appearances in garbage time of blowout victories, but he threw five completions for 195 yards and two touchdowns, one of which ended up being the longest in school history. Beyond the stat sheet, though, Clifford got to spend two years learning from one of the best signal-callers in Penn State history: Trace McSorley.

Franklin was quick to credit Clifford’s time with McSorley as a big part of why he’s so mature in terms of his overall style of play and decision making. The head coach went even as far as to compare it to a famous quarterback duo he spent time with in the NFL.

“When I was with the Green Bay Packers, we drafted Aaron [Rodgers],” Franklin said. “I’d make the argument that there was value in him sitting behind Brett [Favre] for a couple of years. There’s value in that — there’s been a bunch of quarterbacks who have played too early in the NFL and college, and maybe it’s ruined them. I think [waiting behind McSorley] was a big part of [Clifford]’s development.”

While Clifford may not immediately make Rodgers-like throws as he opens as the starter this season, he feels plenty of confidence in his abilities and his team to win football games. With weapons such as KJ Hamler at wide receiver and Pat Freiermuth at tight end, it’s not hard to imagine why the former four-star recruit feels so ready to take the reins.

After Lift for Life, Clifford said he felt as confident in his own abilities and ready to play as he ever had before. Unsurprisingly, that confidence hasn’t gone away at all.

“I’m very confident, if not more. We’ve grown a lot since [Lift for Life],” Clifford said. “Camp has changed a lot of things, and we’re ready to attack this week and show everybody what we’ve got.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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