The long presumed replacement for Trace McSorley at Penn State could be leaving the program.
According to multiple outlets, Tommy Stevens, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound fifth-year senior, has entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal. If Stevens does indeed decide to transfer, he would be eligible immediately at another school in 2019.
Stevens was the No. 2 quarterback behind McSorley, Penn State’s all-time passing leader, for the past three seasons after the two competed for the starting role ahead of the 2016 season. An impressive athlete, Penn State often found ways to get Stevens on the field as a runner or even as a pass catcher.
Over the past three seasons, Stevens combined for 506 yards and eight touchdowns rushing while catching 14 passes for 62 yards and two scores. In relief of McSorley, he also completed 24-of-41 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
With McSorley off to the NFL, 2019 was expected to be the year Stevens finally took over the Penn State offense. But Stevens, who was open about weighing a transfer ahead of the 2018 season, has been limited this spring due to a foot injury. The foot kept him out of action last spring and lingered throughout the 2018 season, leading him to have surgery in December.
With Stevens sidelined, redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford has received the bulk of the first-team reps throughout the spring, as he sometimes did in 2018 while Stevens was banged up. With Stevens out, Clifford saw action in four games in 2018, completing 5-of-7 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, mainly in mop-up duty.
In a recent interview with the Centre Daily Times, Stevens’ father, Tom, was transparent about the possibility of his son leaving PSU.
“Tommy has so much invested in this year, and we know that this is his last shot. If he’s not Penn State’s quarterback, he’s going to be somebody’s quarterback. Everyone already knows, if he’s not playing at Penn State this year, he’s probably going to leave. I don’t think that’s much news to anybody. He wants to be a starter. ... If it’s not Tommy, then I think Sean would do a great job, and we would wish Penn State the best of luck.”
Coming out of spring, Penn State coach James Franklin would not name a starting quarterback. Perhaps that signaled the time for Stevens to play out his final season of college football at another school.
If Stevens does indeed leave, Clifford would be the favorite to start with Will Levis, a redshirt freshman, and freshmen Michael Johnson Jr. and Ta’Quan Roberson also on scholarship. Both Johnson and Roberson enrolled early and participated in spring practice.
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