Dwight Galt Taking Sean Clifford ‘To The Next Level’ With Training Regimen

Following a lackluster year for Penn State football, all eyes turned to Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions’ quarterback room.

Will Clifford be able to get back on track? Should James Franklin turn to another option? While only time will tell what the Nittany Lions’ offense will look like in 2021, Assistant AD for Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt gave a peek into the quarterback situation Thursday.

Clifford’s experience behind center makes him the favorite for the starting position next year, but his 2020 campaign was certainly cause for concern. After throwing eight interceptions in five games, it was clear something was up with the gunslinger. Trying to dial him back in will be a challenge for Penn State, but that process starts in the offseason.

“I had him on a totally different program this winter that I think is really what he needed,” Galt said Thursday. “From continuing to improve his ability to perform on the field physically but also, you know, to make his body as bulletproof as possible.”

Clifford struggled with injuries towards the end of the 2019 season, missing part of the Ohio State game and all of the Rutgers game with a medical issue. While he stayed healthy during the 2020 campaign, building up a quarterback’s toughness is always a positive, especially when they have a tendency to escape the pocket.

Galt said he doesn’t expect Clifford to take an extraordinary amount of “punishment” (sacks, tackles) in 2021, but mobile quarterbacks have a tendency in general to take more hits. He’s had an “unbelievable winter,” according to Galt, and can now bench to 350 pounds and squat near 500 pounds.

Potentially entering his third year as the starter, Clifford’s taken things up a notch in the weight room. The extra muscle should help the gunslinger develop more into the quarterback/running back prototype Penn State aims for.

“I just kind of took him to the next level. He’s almost 23. He’s got a great foundation,” Galt said. “I really wanted to focus on a lot of unilateral one leg/one arm type of things with him for stability…so it’s just been kind of a different approach.”

While getting Clifford back on track seems to be the main focus of the quarterback room for now, Galt also praised the other field generals, too. After Will Levis and Micah Bowens’ transfers, freshmen Ta’Quan Roberson and Christian Veilleux are the only other signal-callers on scholarship.

Roberson, who will enter his third season in the program this year, has garnered lots of attention as the new backup. He’s yet to take meaningful snaps in a Penn State uniform, but his athleticism and electric high school tapes provide reasons to be excited.

“Ta’Quan has always been one of my favorite guys,” Galt said. “He’s a very, very steady, hard-working, positive, can-count-on, type of guy. He’s really stepped up big time and, you know, having a new coordinator come in has actually been a good situation for him.”

Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

After a flurry of departures this offseason, Penn State is suddenly lacking depth at quarterback. Franklin entertained the idea of bringing in a guy via the transfer portal, but no moves have been made yet.

Now that Clifford is the only quarterback on the roster who has actual college experience, his health is of utmost importance. Penn State will need to walk a fine line between trying to get Clifford back to his usual self and giving Roberson and Veilleux much-needed snaps.

Veilleux, while only an early enrollee as a true freshman, caught the eye of Galt as well. The 6’4″, 195-pound quarterback is more of a “pro” style, while Penn State typically tries to develop dual-threat talents. He hasn’t gotten to throw with the team yet, but he’s made progress in the weight room already.

“Christian’s been great as well,” Galt said. “He’s worked really hard and having this mid-year has been a godsend. It’s been a great situation to have him and let him get this development…We don’t have great numbers right now, but we have great confidence in the guys that we have.”

We’ll hear from Franklin on Monday, March 15, for the first time this offseason. He’ll likely shed some more light on the quarterback situation and the exciting spring and summer practices ahead.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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