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Sean Clifford Ready To Run It Back With Mike Yurcich, Right The Ship For Penn State

A week ago, Sean Clifford announced he’ll take advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA and return to Penn State football for one final season.

Clifford, who’ll be 24 at the start of next season, will enter his sixth year with the program at the helm of a soon-to-be crowded quarterback room. He’s made 32 starts thus far in his Penn State career, and by his words, has “seen it all” during his time donning the blue and white.

However, the opportunity to come back and play for the Nittany Lions one more time was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Specifically, running it back with Mike Yurcich played a huge role in his decision, as this will be the first time in Clifford’s career as a starter that he’ll have the same offensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons.

“That was definitely one of the most appealing factors that played into it — was having an offensive coordinator for two years back-to-back,” Clifford said. “I have yet to have that as a starter, and to be honest with you, it has been difficult at times just because you can’t really go back to last season and look at the table and say ‘alright, we’re going to grow on this play, this play, this play,’ because there’s new plays coming in the door.”

Clifford thinks having stability and those previous experiences with Yurcich will allow the duo to make changes on the fly since there’s already a clear understanding of the playbook.

“I think we had made strides this year, but that’s where we can take it to the next level with next year,” Clifford said. “We’re going to be able to talk through looks that we’ve already seen. We’ve been in game situations together. We’ve seen three downs. We’ve seen four downs. We’ve seen different multiples of coverages. So, being able to communicate that and talk through that with Coach Yurcich for another year is going to be outstanding, and it’s going to benefit a lot of people.”

The signal-caller’s excitement isn’t one-sided, as Yurcich is thrilled about Clifford’s decision to return for another season. Yurcich said he wasn’t going to recruit him or sell him on coming back because that’s a decision Clifford had to make on his own. However, the coach made sure he expressed to Clifford how much he wanted him back.

Now that Clifford’s decision is final, Yurcich said they’re “ecstatic” about the prospect of having the experienced QB1 for another season.

“I told Sean that I want him to back obviously, for a lot of different reasons,” Yurcich said. “I think he’s a great young man. I really enjoyed coaching him.”

Besides Yurcich’s presence, Clifford mentioned NIL and his brother Liam as added bonuses for returning to Happy Valley. Liam, a true freshman wideout, hasn’t seen the field this season, but with a full season of development and learning under his belt, he could be in line for a larger role next year.

With NIL, Clifford has been able to market himself and open himself up to a handful of opportunities, which overall, he thinks has been good for college athletics.

“[NIL] allowed me to kind of pursue some things that I was not able to in the past and capitalize on some opportunities for myself and my family in the future,” Clifford said. “To just expand my brand and earn a little bit of money doing it. So, it’s definitely been good I think for all of college football, and I’m excited to see what else is gonna happen going into the future.”

Clifford’s Penn State career has been filled with ups and downs. Coming off a season of highs where the squad went 11-2 with a Cotton Bowl victory, the team finished with a disappointing 4-5 record in 2020, and currently holds a 7-5 record this season. For Clifford, coming back is a chance for him and his teammates to live up to the Penn State standard moving forward.

“I think that I definitely want to right the ship and to do it the way that I want,” Clifford said. “This season, we had a lot of ups and downs. I’ve seen it all honestly. I’ve seen an undefeated team, top-five teams. I’ve been on those teams, one of them a New Year’s Six bowl. I also had last year when we were 0-5.”

“So, kind of seeing both sides, and I’ve been through it all,” he continued. “But, at the same time, I think there’s there’s a lot of opportunities for growth still. Especially with this offense and these guys coming back next year. I think that there’s a lot of a lot of opportunity for us, and that excites me.”

When Clifford and Co. turn the page to the 2022 season, two new faces will be in the quarterback room. Drew Allar and Beau Pribula are set to join Penn State’s signal-callers as highly touted recruits. Clifford has had brief encounters with both of them, but he’s excited to get to know them more and help them grow.

“I know they’re both going to be here pretty soon,” Clifford said. “So, you know, just for them, I think that it’s just going to be a lot of learning to start and that’s where I can come in — really allowing them to be sponges and just give them as much information as possible, help coach Yurcich grow that room, develop it, and then develop myself at the same time.”

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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