Penn State Top 25 players for 2022: Christian Veilleux

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Penn State’s roster for the 2022 season has a good mix of returning veterans and experience and fresh new faces expected to jump in and contribute this fall. Nittany Lions Wire will be taking a look at 25 of the most important players on the roster for the 2022 season all throughout the month of July by profiling one player each day.

Each player should play some kind of role in the success of the Nittany Lions this season as James Franklin looks to lead Penn State back to winning enough games to be considered for a lucrative bowl game at the end of the season.

Typically speaking, the role of the backup quarterback may not always be one of the major keys to success for any college football team, but Penn State knows the value of having a capable backup option ready to roll. And in 2022, Penn State should have more confidence in its backup plan for Sean Clifford with Christian Veilleux.

2021 in review

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Last season saw Christian Veilleux appear in just two games, including one regular season appearance in relief of an injured Clifford. Veilleux took over the offense in a late-season home game against Rutgers when Clifford was knocked out of the game with an injury, and Veilleux took advantage of that opportunity.

Veilleux completed 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Rutgers, and he added 39 rushing yards on 12 rushing attempts in that effort. As a result, Veilleux earned the staff’s offensive player of the week honors.

Veilleux’s performance against Rutgers left many Penn State fans wondering why he didn’t replace an injured Clifford earlier in the season at Iowa, but James Franklin suggested Veilleux was more ready for the moment in the later home game against Rutgers than he would have been on the road against a stingy Iowa defense in early October.

Veilleux made a brief appearance again in Penn State’s matchup in the Outback Bowl against Arkansas, although his time on the field was incredibly brief as Clifford returned to the game after a short absence.

Biggest question for 2022

Penn State is about to enter the 2022 season knowing that Sean Clifford is the team’s starting quarterback, and that is not going to change unless Clifford is injured or is so inconsistent and productive that Franklin and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich feel a need to make a drastic change at the position. But if Clifford does have to come off the field for one reason or another, the big question is whether or not Veilleux can save the game or season.

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Veilleux dazzled many watching the November contest against Rutgers last season, but that was a home game… against Rutgers. What would Veilleux do against a team like Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State? That is a totally different scenario to ponder. But in this scenario, even a little bit of experience is better than absolutely no experience as was the case for Penn State’s backup quarterback situation in 2021.

There could also be a question on whether Veilleux would be the first backup option on the roster after Penn State added one of the top passers in the Class of 2022 in Drew Allar. Allar may be viewed as the quarterback of the future for the Nittany Lions but Veilleux is still likely to be the first go-to option as a backup to Clifford if needed.

2022 will be a success if...

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

The easy answer is the 2022 season will be a success if Veilleux doesn’t need to take the field. That would suggest Sean Clifford stayed healthy and productive to lead to a solid season for Penn State in 2022. But if Veilleux has to come in, this season will be a success if the sophomore leads Penn State to a nine-win season and a New Year’s Day bowl game.

This all hinges on when Veilleux potentially has to take over. But, another simple answer would be to suggest this season is a success if Veilleux remains Penn State’s top backup option behind Clifford. Veilleux rose the depth chart as the season progresses last season, replacing Taquan Roberson as the first option off the sideline when his name was called against Rutgers. Not falling on the depth chart would certainly be a nice development for Veilleux this season.

2022 will be a disappointment if...

AP Photo/Barry Reeger

If Drew Allar supplants Veilleux as the top backup option for Penn State, then this season will be a disappointment individually for Veilleux. And if that happens, then we could quickly be looking to see where Veilleux goes in the transfer portal in the offseason.

We’ll hold off on that kind of speculation for now, of course, but the nature of college football suggests more than ever these days that the transfer portal is there for players to seize better opportunities for playing time. This is not to suggest Veilleux will follow the footsteps of Will Levis, but the pressure is on for Veilleux to hold off Allar as the quarterback of the future once Clifford moves on after this season.

Realistic outlook for 2022

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State’s quarterback depth looks much better going into this season compared to a year ago, and Veilleux is the main reason why. Yes, Allar joining the program is a big deal, but Veilleux having a full season in the system under his belt already, even with brief playing time, puts the Nittany Lions in a more comfortable position for the upcoming season.

Veilleux will be the first option Franklin turns to if needed if Clifford is unavailable, and there should be no hesitation to make that decision despite the calls already coming for Allar. Veilleux will be Penn State’s backup quarterback from start to finish this season, especially if the game is on the line.

This is Clifford’s team, but Veilleux is the next man up.

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Story originally appeared on Nittany Lions Wire