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Sean Clifford Remains Close With Penn State Legend Trace McSorley

There was no bigger question mark surrounding Penn State football’s offense entering the 2019 season than there was at quarterback.

After probable starter Tommy Stevens transferred to Mississippi State this past May, the keys to Ricky Rahne’s offense were left to Sean Clifford. The redshirt sophomore had gotten a bit of experience in garbage time in 2018 — completing five passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns — but that was all Nittany Lion fans knew about the young quarterback.

With three games under his belt, Clifford currently sits at fifth in the nation with 10.41 yards per completion and has six passing touchdowns on the season. While he has yet to face any top competition, it’s hard to not be pleased with the quarterback’s solid start to his young career.

If nothing else, Clifford has looked plenty comfortable leading this Nittany Lion offense. Clifford knows that plenty of his confidence comes from getting to learn under Trace McSorley for two seasons, as he tries to model his game after the Penn State legend.

“[Trace] would dissect film and talk about what plays he liked and didn’t like, and he would analyze how defensive players would react to a certain play at look at what he can do different,” Clifford said. “He was always prepared.”

In terms of picking a player to model his game after, Penn State’s all-time leader in wins and passing touchdowns is a good place start. Clifford got to watch McSorley win 20 games at Penn State, including a Fiesta Bowl victory and a blowout over Michigan, all while standing right next to him on the sideline.

While there were plenty of victories, Clifford also got to experience several moments of adversity with No. 9. The 2018 season offered plenty of tough moments, including a brutal loss to Ohio State at Beaver Stadium and a leg injury that McSorley suffered against Iowa and was forced to deal with for the rest of the season.

Although Clifford has yet to face much adversity of his own in his young career, he understands the importance of getting to see McSorley fight through it.

“Trace is one the best resources I have. He’s been through everything you could think of on and off the field,” Clifford said. “Because of that, he has a perspective that other people don’t.”

As the young quarterback turns his focus ahead to Penn State’s first Big Ten game of the season against Maryland Friday night, he knows that McSorley is just a phone call away. In fact, the pair of gunslingers have touched base throughout this 2019 season.

“It’s more about talking to each other about everyday things and catching up,” Clifford said. “Overall, he and I have been able to maintain a great relationship.”

Clifford’s connection to the now NFL quarterback will likely be an invaluable tool for him throughout the rest of his Penn State career. He would likely be pleased to leave Happy Valley with a legacy that is anything similar to No. 9’s.

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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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