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National Signing Day 2017: Welcome to Penn State, Sean Clifford

The first commit of 2017 — quarterback Sean Clifford — is signed, sealed, and delivered to Penn State.


The culmination of the recruiting season is here, as National Signing Day 2017 is finally upon it. Here at Black Shoe Diaries, we’ll have coverage throughout the day of Penn State’s recruiting class, taking a player-by-player look at each member of the class, and taking a bigger picture look at the class as a whole. Thanks for stopping by, and if you aren’t already following, please follow @BSDTweet on Twitter for more recruiting news and notes.

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The first member of Penn State’s 2017 recruiting class, Sean Clifford committed to the Nittany Lions way back in July 2015. The Ohio quarterback has been a leader for the class, taking a role as “class recruiter”, constantly reaching out to other uncommitted prospects on Penn State’s behalf.


Position High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank Positional Rank
Position High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank Positional Rank
Pro-style quarterback Cincinatti, OH (St. Xavier) 6-foot-2, 210 pounds Four-star (0.9210) No. 190 overall, No. 8 pro-style quarterback, No. 6 player in OH


Scouting Report

There are very few quarterbacks in the country that are as polished as Clifford. Playing at one of the better high school football programs in the country — St. Xavier — it’s clear to see that he’s been very well coached. If he was coming into a program that needed immediate quarterback help, he’s definitely a kid that could play as a freshman.

As for his actual skills, there’s so much to like about Clifford. Easy, compact delivery with very little wasted motion. He’s incredibly accurate, due in part to his footwork and always having his feet under him. He doesn’t have a cannon for the arm like Christian Hackenberg did, but his arm strength is still good; will be able to make all the throws. Solid athlete that is comfortable moving around in the pocket, and is able to tuck the ball and run. And lastly, he’s a natural leader that relishes the role.


There were originally some concerns about Clifford’s fit in Joe Moorhead’s offense, but I think this season alleviated most of those concerns. Moorhead’s offense doesn’t need a quarterback who runs a 4.5 to be effective, it just needs a quarterback that can keep the defense honest. Clifford is a good enough athlete to do so, and what he lacks as a runner, he makes up for with everything else — smarts, accuracy, and a quick release.

With three scholarship quarterbacks in front of him, Clifford will obviously redshirt. His best chance to see the field — if Tommy Stevens transfers after next season — will be in 2019 as a redshirt sophomore, taking over for a graduating Trace McSorley. Ahead of him will be redshirt junior Jake Zembiec, and behind him should be redshirt freshman Justin Fields, so Penn State is sitting pretty at quarterback.