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Penn State has quite an interesting quarterback situation brewing for the 2022 season. There may not be a controversy to speak of, but the return of Sean Clifford for a sixth year of college football at the same time the program is bringing in one of the top quarterback prospects in the Class of 2022 with Drew Allar is a fascinating topic of conversation going into the new season. But where exactly does Penn State’s quarterback situation rank among other programs around the country?
ESPN college football writer David Hale took some time to rank every FBS program’s quarterback situation in a tier system. And Penn State’s tier ranking is one that comes with a bit of a mixed reaction. Hale placed Clifford in the upper half of his 25-tier ranking system, but it is clear Clifford and Penn State’s tier ranking leaves a little something to prove in 2022.
Hale placed Clifford in his Tier 9, classified as “Veterans with moxie.” Clifford is in the same batch as Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders, and Stanford’s Tanner McKee, among others. Hale resisted the temptation to label these passers purely as game managers, although conceded it is easy to see why they may be classified that way by some. But a player like Clifford falls into this category because, like others in the same tier, there are too many mixed results to justify a more noble ranking.
“Clifford played in 12 full games last year. His six best performances were excellent (67% completions, 16 TDs and three picks),” Hale noted in his explanation. “In his six worst, not so much (57% completions, five touchdowns and five picks).”
That’s a fair criticism of Clifford, and one that has many wondering just what else can be expected of him in 2022. If Clifford has the same type of season we have seen the past two seasons, will the win total have any expectation for being improved in 2022? Perhaps not, which is discouraging to some fans, and why some are already itching to see how things look with Allar (or even Christian Veilleux).
But make no mistake. Hale is accurate in labeling Penn State’s quarterback situation with just Clifford in his scope. Clifford will be Penn State’s quarterback for the 2022 season until James Franklin is forced to go in a different way for one reason or another. If there was any indication Allar or Veilleux would seriously be giving Clifford a run for his job at the start of the season, it would have been recognized here.
We’ll see if Clifford can put together the kind of season that leads to more success in 2022. If Clifford ends the season as Penn State’s starting quarterback, that could be an incredibly good thing for the Nittany Lions.
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