Redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford has won the competition to become Penn State’s starting quarterback, head coach James Franklin announced Friday.
The disclosure was made in a tweet that simply said “QB1. @seancliff14” and included a 12-second video of Clifford passing and pointing to the camera.
The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Clifford, of Cincinnati, was competing with redshirt freshman Will Levis in training camp to succeed Trace McSorley, the Nittany Lions’ starter for the last three seasons. He will make his first start in the season opener Aug. 31 against Idaho at Beaver Stadium.
As recently as Tuesday night, Franklin said he and his coaches had not discussed the quarterback situation.
“We haven’t even talked about it, honestly,” he said. “I swear to God, we haven’t even discussed it at this point. We’re obviously getting close to that, but we haven’t had a discussion yet, not just at quarterback but really at any position when it comes to depth charts and rotation and things like that.”
Franklin added that “it’s not like we have a date marked on the calendar” to name a starter. But since he admitted that preparations already had begun for Idaho, the assumption was that a starter would be named very soon.
“You say you’d like to get two guys ready, but we really need to get one guy enough reps so that we can start building his confidence, whether that’s Sean or Will,” Franklin said, adding that Clifford probably had received more reps than Levis.
A program spokesperson said there was “no statement at this time” from Franklin on Friday’s decision.
Clifford played in four games last season, completing 5 of 7 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns, displaying a strong arm. One of his completions was a program-record 95-yard score to Daniel George against Kent State.
Clifford has displayed his leadership since the end of last season, especially during the spring, when he met with his teammates after the transfer of quarterback Tommy Stevens and promised them there would be no drop-off at the position.
He also has a competitive streak, having suffered a broken hand in workouts between his freshman and redshirt freshman year when he slammed a bench in the weight room during a workout. Coaches said he has done a better job of reining in his emotions.