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Camaraderie In Quarterback Room Setting Penn State, Drew Allar Up For Future Success

When talking about the 2022 Penn State football team, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more controversial topic than the quarterback position.

While internally there’s never been much of a question about Sean Clifford’s starting status, there’s been unrelenting calls for freshman phenom Drew Allar to unseat Clifford as the team’s signal-caller. Despite the constant external debate pitting Allar and Clifford up against each other, the reality of the situation couldn’t be any more different.

As one would expect, Allar was mobbed with questions at his first-ever media availability on Saturday outside of Rose Bowl Stadium. The true freshman had endless praise for Clifford and all he’s done for him, saying he “couldn’t have asked for a better mentor” than Clifford.

“I can’t say enough things that Sean has done for me and all the other quarterbacks in this class and in the room still,” Allar said. “Just from the standpoint of how to prepare as a starter and the do’s and don’ts — just getting the ins and outs, what he experienced and what he would do different, what he wouldn’t do differently. I think that really benefitted everybody in the room, and we were all able to grow and learn from that.”

Allar declined to look past the Rose Bowl and into his future, instead offering up his support for Clifford as he ends his collegiate career. He said he’s excited for Clifford, who Allar credited with showing him how to be a starting quarterback.

Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich called this year’s quarterback room, which also features true freshman Beau Pribula, one of the best he’s ever had. Yurcich thinks the mutual respect they all have for each other helped strengthen their bond and block out the outside noise, also stating that Clifford has helped the other quarterbacks in “every way.”

“They’re a very mature group that understands what it’s all about,” Yurcich said. “They respect Sean very much. And Sean has played at a very high level this year, so there really hasn’t been any issues whatsoever with that.”

When it comes to Allar, he’s been put on an almost unfair pedestal, which could be overwhelming for such a young player. Clifford’s presence as the veteran in the room has helped Allar navigate through his whirlwind first season as a Nittany Lion.

Allar said the best advice Clifford has given him is to stay emotionally steady.

“Just because when you get too high, you can sink really fast and when you get too low, you’ll just start doubting yourself,” Allar said. “We’re all here for a reason, so there’s never a reason that we should be doubting ourselves.”

All signs point toward Allar following through with that advice early on in his career. His head coach, James Franklin, called him a “neat young man” and said he’s handled everything the right way, beginning with his recruiting process.

The Medina, Ohio, native appeared in nine games this season and completed 35-of-59 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns, often coming into the game in relief of Clifford with the Nittany Lions holding a comfortable lead. The young gunslinger explained that getting experience this early on in his career was beneficial for his development.

“The more experience you gain in anything, you’re going to get better at it and just being more in tune with what’s going on,” Allar said. “So, I think it was a great first step, and I’m glad I was just able to get that time in there.”

Franklin saw value in the “ideal situation” of Allar sitting behind Clifford this year, even making an analogy to Aaron Rodgers sitting behind Brett Favre in Green Bay after he was drafted.

“I was with the Green Bay Packers when we had Brett Favre and we drafted Aaron Rodgers,” Franklin said. “I think there’s a ton of value in what Aaron was able to do and being able to sit behind Brett for a few years and learn from that. And when he was able to take over, he was ready… That kind of impacted me.”

Sitting behind Clifford has allowed Allar to learn from afar, improving his knowledge of protections and seeing different defenses throughout the season. The young signal-caller said the game has slowed down for him over time since spring ball.

Team captain Ji’Ayir Brown has seen Allar’s work ethic in full effect, saying he often sees Allar in the building early watching film.

“I come in every day in the building early and I see Drew watching film with Sean, or he’s watching film with the quarterback coach,” Brown said. “He’s just trying to learn so much before it’s his time to step into that role.”

Furthermore, Brown said he’s around both Allar and Pribula all the time and gives them advice on how to handle college, the fans, and how to be a leader. He believes the two quarterbacks are destined to be great because they’re willing to learn and listen, which is something he said you can’t coach.

Pribula, who is often the forgotten man in the room, has embraced the “iron sharpens iron” mentality, stating that the competition in the room has made everyone better. Specifically, he shouted out Clifford for taking him under his wing and showing him the ropes this season.

Clifford, who has often been referred to as the old man in the room, has selflessly guided Allar and Pribula through their first collegiate seasons, despite the calls for the two to unseat him. Part of Clifford’s parting advice to them is to stay true to who they are, be proud of who they are, and make plays while balancing all the highs and lows that come with being a quarterback at Penn State.

The sixth-year quarterback said that both Allar and Pribula are going to do great things at Penn State, but in the end, it’ll be about how the two bounce back when things aren’t going their way.

“There are going to be some times that are not going to be your shining hours because that day you woke up and your right hip is just killing you for some reason,” he continued. “You got to go out and still practice and you don’t have a good practice. It’s how you respond in those moments.”

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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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