The past two seasons Trace McSorley has been one of the best quarterbacks in the FBS. He now enters 2018 as arguably the best quarterback in all of college football and a Heisman front runner.
Behind McSorley is possibly the second best quarterback in the Big Ten - Tommy Stevens.
With these two it goes without saying that Penn State is loaded at quarterback. In fact, just yesterday CBS Sports ranked Penn State’s quarterback room as the third best in the FBS.
Outside of the top two there is another quarterback in the room that is often times overlooked that should not be. CBS Sports is among those overlooking said quarterback. Who is this quarterback? Sean Clifford.
This fall will be Clifford’s redshirt freshman season. The odds of the Cincinnati native making his debut in mop up duty at some point this fall are quite good. While he may not get a chance to flash much when he does, store the image of him at the helm and his name away because he is the future at quarterback for the Nittany Lions.
After McSorley heads to NFL next spring, Stevens will be the man for the Nittany Lions in 2019. After that, however, it will be Clifford’s time to shine.
As a true freshman last fall, Clifford rose to third on the depth chart at quarterback, surpassing scholarship quarterback Jake Zembiec and veteran walk-on Michael Shuster. While Clifford’s season would be cut short due to injury, it speaks volumes about how far he came in a short period of time that the coaching staff was ready to turn to him as a true freshman had something happened to McSorley and Stevens.
Dating back to when he committed to Penn State during the summer of 2015, Clifford has been a leader for the program. He was the leader of the 2017 recruiting class, and his leadership traits have carried over to his time on campus.
Clifford is the type of fiery leader you want to see at quarterback. In fact, the injury he suffered last fall was a broken hand that came from punching a bench in the weight room. While, admittedly, this was a less than stellar decision by Clifford, if he is getting that fired up over working out imagine his passion for the game while on the field.
With McSorley taking it easy and Stevens dealing with a foot injury, Clifford got more reps than any other quarterback in spring practice. Clifford took advantage of the opportunity and capped off his impressive spring by going 4/8 for 58 yards and a touchdown in the Blue White Game.
Clifford also comes from a great background. In high school, Clifford played against one of the toughest high school schedules in the country while playing for St. Xavier High School. At St. Xavier, Clifford quarterbacked a team that was ranked in the top-20 in the country according to MaxPreps, a pedigree that is hard to overlook.
The next time you think about the future of Penn State Football, do not forget to think about Sean Clifford.