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James Franklin: Sean Clifford Is Penn State’s Returning Starter

It looks like Penn State will run it back with Sean Clifford under center next fall.

James Franklin spoke to the media Wednesday and provided a pretty strong indication as to who his quarterback will be in 2022. While he made sure to say he never rules out competition, Franklin endorsed Clifford as the starter heading into next season.

“Sean’s our returning starter,” Franklin said. “There’s no doubt about that. But, there’s competition at every position. Obviously, it’s more challenging at any position to unseat a returning starter who’s been doing it for a couple of years.”

“But, there’s competition across the board,” he continued. “Across the board at every single position. You rebuild your team every year, and there will be competition at every single position, including the quarterback position.”

Clifford has served as the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback for the past three seasons and has had mixed results. After an impressive 2019 season that saw him toss 23 touchdowns as opposed to just seven interceptions, the signal-caller took a step back in 2020 amid the team’s struggles.

His 2021 campaign was filled with ups and downs, but he generally did a solid job of controlling the offense and making plays, especially in the first half of the season.

With highly touted quarterbacks Drew Allar and Beau Pribula now in the picture, and Christian Veilleux presumably taking a step forward in his development, there’s an argument to be made that the Nittany Lions should have an open competition at quarterback.

However, the odds of that happening are slim, and barring something unforeseen, it’s likely a safe bet that Clifford will be out there with the starters when Penn State takes on Purdue on September 3. After all, the 2022 season will be Clifford’s sixth with the Nittany Lions, which makes him by far the most experienced quarterback the team has.

To this point, Clifford has started 33 games for Penn State over a three-year stretch. He’s thrown for 7,839 yards and has tossed 62 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in his Penn State career. During the 2021 season, he joined Jonathan Sutherland as the first three-time captains in program history.

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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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