Penn State football found its starting quarterback in sophomore Trace McSorley last year. However, if he goes down the Nittany Lions are in good hands with Tommy Stevens.
Penn State football experienced one of its best offensive seasons in school history in 2016. The production was largely due to quarterback Trace McSorley. His dynamic dual threat ability turned around the Nittany Lions football program. His season proved he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten, but his backup, Tommy Stevens, is no slouch either.
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Rewind to the 2016 offseason, McSorley and Stevens were competing to lead the Penn State football program. The battle was a difficult choice for head coach James Franklin. In fact, he didn’t pick starter until late August.
Stevens presented the highly recruited, prototypical quarterback. At 6-foot-4, 215-pounds, he’s everything a coach could want size-wise. Don’t let his bigger frame fool you though, Stevens is a quick-footed runner. In fact, this past season he rushed 21 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
Stevens is also a tall, strong passer and he proved his accuracy over this year’s spring game completing 17-of-24 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns (according to CNS Philly). He had a similar skill set to McSorley, but Stevens doesn’t have the experience.
He was just a redshirt freshman to McSorley, who was a redshirt sophomore during last offseason’s battle. McSorley’s experience against Georgia in the Taxslayer Bowl and strong spring were enough to seal the job.
Although Stevens held a clipboard last year, he put that his skill display over the last year. He may not be the second best QB in the Big Ten as one writer suggests, but Stevens performance is promising for the future.
The soon-to-be sophomore didn’t see many snaps in 2016, but I’d expect that number to rise in 2017. Whether it be late-game snaps or packages that utilize his skills, Franklin will want him around. If he stays until McSorley graduates, the Nittany Lions could be national title contenders for at least the next three years.
He’ll be back in the driver’s seat the next two years and a Heisman Trophy candidate. Regardless, if he goes down due to injury or sees his play digress, Penn State has one of the best backup plans in college football.