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Midweek Musings - Oh What Might Have Been

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Time will tell, but Tommy Stevens’ final season at Penn State could have been a good one

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

By now you’ve all heard the news - redshirt senior quarterback Tommy Stevens has entered the transfer portal.

Stevens was the presumptive starter for the 2019 season, after having ridden the bench behind Trace McSorley for the last 3 years.

That is, until a nagging foot injury required him to have surgery in advance of the Citrus Bowl, the recovery for which caused him to miss the majority of the bowl prep and a big chunk of winter workouts, limited him during spring practice, and sit out for all of the Blue-White Game.

In his stead, rising redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford took full advantage of the opportunity.

Clifford entered the Citrus Bowl when McSorley was injured, with mixed results. When provided time, he showed off his accuracy, dropping a dime down the left sideline that was promptly dropped by DeAndre Thompkins. But when pressured, the young QB seemed flustered.

Still, he was able to fully participate in winter workouts, spring practice, and the Blue-White Game, again showcasing his arm strength, accuracy, and even some scrambling ability.

Due to his continued success, James Franklin made the announcement that there would be a full quarterback competition this summer, and the starter for 2019 wouldn’t be named until just before the game against Idaho.

This time last off-season, Tommy pursued his transfer options, and decided to stay put. We’ll never know what was said to keep him in tow, but it seems he would be given an extremely good chance of being named the starter. If not a full-on guarantee, at least enough confidence to stick around.

Whether because of his nagging injury, or because of the sheer rise of Sean Clifford - or probably both - Tommy Stevens is in the transfer portal, and while he may still return, it seems unlikely. With just one season to go, he NEEDS to cement his draft stock as a starter.

In essence - Sean Clifford can afford to lose a quarterback competition this summer, Tommy Stevens cannot.

And so it seems more likely than not that the Stevens Train will not lead us through the 2019 season, as so many had hoped.

We’ll be left to wonder what may have been. Tommy presented a new kind of quarterback - tall, strong, fast, and with some serious arm strength, there was a very good likelihood that he would pick up right where McSorley left off. Given that the offensive line still seems suspect, having a QB that relishes running would have been a boon to the offense.

Would Tommy have made it through the whole season uninjured? Who knows. His nagging injury history led some to speculate that he could very well miss time, and if Clifford came in and lit it up? Well, that’s a thought experiment for another day.

In any case, we’ll probably never find out what the 2019 offense would have looked like with Stevens running the show. Whatever the future may hold for Tommy, we wish him all the best. A true team player, Stevens stayed loyal to Penn State when he very easily could have transferred. We all hope that he finds a great place to land, earns the starting job wherever it may be, and we see his name called in next April’s NFL Draft.

Best of luck Tommy, and thanks for everything!