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James Franklin names Trace McSorley as Penn State’s starting quarterback

The redshirt sophomore will make his first collegiate start against Kent State on September 3.

NCAA Football: TaxSlayer Bowl-Penn State vs Georgia Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

After three full seasons of Christian Hackenberg at the helm, Penn State fans knew they would have a new starting quarterback to scrutinize heading into the 2016 season. They just didn’t know exactly who that guy would be... until today. Following Wednesday’s practice, Penn State head coach James Franklin named Trace McSorley as his new first-string signal caller.

"It was a combination of factors. It was spring practice. It was the bowl game," Franklin said. But "it was a difficult decision."

If we’re just looking at what McSorley did in last January’s TaxSlayer Bowl and the Blue-White scrimmage in April, the decision seems easy. While substituting for Hackenberg as a redshirt freshman in the game formerly known as the Gator Bowl, McSorley went 14-for-27 for 142 yards and two touchdowns against a Georgia defense that was one of the best in the SEC.

Nittany Lion fans did not see the Ashburn, Virginia native in action again until the spring game, when he impressed with 281 passing yards and four touchdowns, albeit against Penn State’s backup defenders.

Ultimately, the decision came down to McSorley or Tommy Stevens, the redshirt freshman out of Indianapolis. Franklin went with the more experienced player. We’ll see how that works out when McSorley makes his first ever start as a Nittany Lion on September 3 against Kent State.