The most likely successor to Trace McSorley at Penn State could be looking to play ball elsewhere this fall. Tommy Stevens, who had been assumed to be the next starting quarterback for Penn State by many this offseason, has reportedly entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.
Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle was the first to report news of Stevens entering the transfer portal, via Twitter. The Centre Daily Times followed up with a confirmed report.
By adding his name to the transfer portal, Stevens can now make official contact with any other football program looking to add a quarterback to their roster. While this does not necessarily rule out a return to the Nittany Lions in the fall, it seems that most players entering the transfer portal tend to take their game elsewhere when all is said and done. A number of Penn State players have taken advantage of the transfer portal this season, although Penn State has seen players withdraw their name from the portal as well to remain in Happy Valley. We’ll see what the future holds for Stevens.
Stevens backed up McSorley as Penn State’s quarterback the last couple of seasons. Penn State used Stevens in a variety of ways in the offense at times too by sending him out as a receiver at times the last two seasons. Stevens rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception last fall. He added just two receptions for two yards after catching 12 passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.
As a graduating senior, Stevens will have immediate eligibility in 2019, and he could potentially star at a number of programs in need of a boost at quarterback.
If Stevens is on the move, that likely leads Penn State to put the keys to the offense in the hands of Sean Clifford, who James Franklin suggested would continue to battle for the starting job with Stevens leading up to the start of the 2019 season. That competition would likely be over if Stevens leaves Penn State for another playing opportunity.
With Trace McSorley moving on from the Nittany Lions after starting the past three seasons, Penn State head coach James Franklin isn’t quite ready to anoint the next starting quarterback. He did, however, say Tommy Stevens will begin the spring at the top of the depth chart.
“Obviously we’re not in a situation to name a starter really at any position,” Franklin said on Wednesday when addressing the media on signing day, according to Lions 247. “But, yeah, when we start out, you know, you’ve got to put them in order. So Tommy will be No. 1 and [Sean Clifford] will be No. 2 and [Will Levis] will be No. 3 and so forth down the line.”
We probably shouldn’t read too much into this statement, as Franklin is committed to competition at a number of positions beginning this spring. A final decision may not even be made at the end of the spring if the level of play between Stevens and Clifford (and Levis) is fairly even. But somebody has to take the first reps in the spring, and that will fall on Stevens.
This hardly a shocking development in Happy Valley. Stevens had been the primary backup to McSorley each of the past two seasons and he had been projected to be the most likely successor at the position once McSorley graduated. Stevens underwent offseason surgery that left him unavailable for Penn State’s bowl game. As Franklin suggested in December, the timing of the surgery for Stevens was discussed, and it is expected Stevens will be available to participate in spring practices.
Stevens appeared in seven games for Penn State last season, in which he completed eight of 11 pass attempts for 110 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Stevens also carried the football 28 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns and he caught two passes for a total of two yards as he was sparingly used in other positions on the field with McSorley.
Clifford may have the best shot to push Stevens for playing time. The former four-star recruit appeared in four games last season for the Nittany Lions, sometimes entering a game before Stevens was given a chance to play. By appearing in just four games, Clifford can preserve his redshirt year and still has four years of eligibility to use. Clifford could likely be the successor to Stevens if he doesn’t impress enough in the spring to make a case for the starting job right now.