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‘We Have Competition At Every Single Position’: Penn State Quarterback Question Still Unanswered

There may be just one person who claims not to know who will start at quarterback for Penn State football when the team begins its season against West Virginia on Saturday, September 2.

While Drew Allar has been set as the presumed successor to longtime starting quarterback Sean Clifford since the day that he stepped onto Penn State’s campus in January 2022, James Franklin didn’t declare a winner to the Nittany Lions’ quarterback competition with 86 days until the season opener.

“We have competition at every single position, every single year, returning starter or not,” Franklin told the media June 8. “I think that’s the right thing to do.”

Allar’s competition at the position is Beau Pribula, who, like Allar, was a member of the Nittany Lions’ recruiting Class of 2022. The difference between the two was that Allar was a five-star recruit by the time he arrived on campus. Pribula was a three-star.

More recently, Allar took snaps behind Clifford in the 2022 season. The youngster played in enough games that he was unable to take a redshirt season. By contrast, Pribula didn’t take a snap in a Penn State game until the Blue-White Game in April, when he attempted 22 of his 27 passes with second-string players.

Franklin’s hesitation to name a starter isn’t surprising. Entering his 10th year with Penn State, Franklin wants competition at the position. It’s likely that Allar will only stick around Penn State for two more years. Franklin will need someone to step up when the Ohio native is gone.

It’s a situation that Franklin has had before. From 2016-17, he had running backs Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders on the same roster. Barkley was a shout for a Heisman candidate in college, and when Sanders turned pro, he reached last season’s Super Bowl as the starting running back for the Philadelphia Eagles.

At Penn State, Barkley was the evident starter. But Franklin said that competition between the two made them both better. If Franklin has his way, the same will happen to Allar and Pribula.

“I think at times there may have been some frustration with that, but I truly believe that type of competition in college really set them up to be successful in the NFL,” Franklin said. “[Barkley] always had somebody behind him trying to take reps away from him. And [Sanders], as a young player, was trying to overtake [Barkley]. So I think that is a healthy position to be in.”

Franklin also has to answer the question of how he’ll use each quarterback. As Mike Yurcich, Penn State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach said at the same press conference, each quarterback has different styles. Gameplans have to be tailored to those styles.

Allar’s been described as a quarterback who’s steady in the pocket. Teammates have raved about his ability to place passes in locations where only a receiver can catch them. Allar can be mobile but his arm is what really sets him apart from the pack.

Pribula, however, is described as athletic. He’s the quarterback that Franklin and Yurcich could turn to when they need to push a pile or in a situation that calls for a mobile quarterback. He’s the Nittany Lions’ alternate.

However Franklin plays the two quarterbacks, it will likely be some time before Penn State fans have an answer to the question that’s hung over the program for more than a year. Franklin noted that he wanted Clifford to compete for a starting role for the six years that the recent NFL draftee spent in Happy Valley. The same will apply to Allar.

If Franklin has 86 days to name a starter against the Mountaineers, he may just use all 86.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football, and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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