Penn State starting quarterback Sean Clifford returning for sixth season in 2022

·3 min read

Sean Clifford will work to be a four-year starter at Penn State, after all.

The senior quarterback announced on Friday that he will take advantage of the NCAA's COVID-19 exemption to return to Penn State for a sixth year in 2022.

After a steady and promising 2019 debut, his past two seasons have been filled with wild swings of success and disappointment.

Last year's turnover-prone performance helped produce a school-worst 0-5 start and led to him getting benched. He did rally the Nittany Lions to four straight wins, though, to close out 2020.

He started hot this fall under new coordinator Mike Yurcich as the Lions soared to 5-0. But he and the team struggled mightily to find themselves after he was injured and knocked out of the Iowa game. Though he never missed a full game, he never regained his full running ability and poor blocking in front of him made things even tougher.

Penn State lost five of its final seven games leading to a New Year's Day Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, against Arkansas.

But Clifford will take advantage of an encore season — not only to try to end his own career strong but to help the Lions recover after two disappointing seasons that began in the Top 10.

"I could not pass up the chance to be with this family and play the game I love again," Clifford wrote in his return announcement.

He also will be looked to help tutor the team's impressive underclass quarterbacks in Christian Veilleux and incoming rookies Drew Allar and Central York's Beau Pribula.

Clifford will be 24 by next season and should become the rare four-year team captain. He was the No. 7-rated QB in the Big Ten as far as efficiency but did boast an impressive touchdown/interception ratio (20-to-6) in spite of his injury issues and being pressured heavily down the stretch.

In his announcement on social media, Clifford highlighted how he could not pass up another chance to play the game he loves with his teammates — including younger brother, Liam, a redshirt freshman receiver in 2022.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is returning for a sixth season in 2022.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is returning for a sixth season in 2022.

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Clifford's return should help steady an offense that will be faced with one of the more challenging opening schedules in the nation. Through their first six games next season they play on the road at Purdue, Auburn and Michigan and face Ohio State in Beaver Stadium.

Had he left, Penn State would have featured one of the most inexperienced quarterback rooms. Returners Veilleux and TaQuan Roberson have each played only one half of one college game.

At least true freshmen Allar and Pribula are enrolling early in January and are highly-regarded. Allar, from Ohio, is regarded as the top QB recruit in the nation by multiple industry sites.

Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him at fbodani@ydr.com and follow him on Twitter @YDRPennState.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Penn State QB Sean Clifford to return for 2022 season