Trace McSorley’s durability is the key to Penn State’s success
The Nittany Lions' veteran quarterback, who came back from an injury last week, has a routine. "Literally by 7 a.m., he's done more than most people do all day," his coach said.
Trace McSorley says he's always been the type of player you've seen in a Penn State uniform every week of the football season for the last 35 games — a guy who can take hit after hit and still pop up, eager to run the next play.
Even in Saturday's game against Iowa, when he was knocked out of the game with an apparent right-knee injury, he returned and raced 51 yards for a touchdown on his fourth play. He was on the field for every snap of the second half in the 30-24 victory.
How does he do it? How does he manage to stay so durable with all the darting, dashing, and diving he does in the course of a game?
In a conference call Wednesday, the 6-foot, 203-pound McSorley said he has a routine on the Monday after a game – the players' day off – no matter how sore he is. It includes taking care of his body, stretching, and receiving extra treatment.
He said he also likes to get in an extra lift in the weight room "to continue to get the soreness out from the game before, but also to continue to have that durability."
"Those are the main things that I've done really over the last couple of years," he said. "That's kind of been my routine with any sort of free time that I have. The biggest step for me this year has been nutrition, hydration, that sort of thing … what we've been able to do as a program."
Head coach James Franklin admires McSorley's dedication to stay fit.
"Literally by 7 a.m., he's done more than most people do all day, to give him the best chance to be healthy, to practice at a very, very high level, and then also to make sure that he can go and be present and dominate in the classroom," Franklin said. "So, he's a great example."
That dedication has included the classroom, too. On Wednesday, McSorley, who compiled a 3.31 grade-point average in accounting and received his degree in May, was named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded by the National Football Foundation to the nation's top scholar-athlete.
When you're asked to do all that McSorley is asked to do on the field, taking care of himself is vital. He has run or passed on 61 percent of the Nittany Lions' 561 plays through eight games. With 617 yards, he is first in rushing among Big Ten quarterbacks.
As for memorable hard hits, McSorley goes back to Penn State's second play in the 2016 Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.
"I guess if there's one hit, it would be that T.J. Watt one, where I completely got lifted up and driven into the ground," he said. "Other than that, there have been big hits, but nothing that has been over the top that kind of made me think the next day, 'Oh man, I was lucky there.' "
McSorley would not reveal much about his injury other than "it's feeling good." He said he's going "one day at a time in figuring out what's going to be the best fit for me to be able to play on Saturday."
When he wraps up his third and final season as the Lions' starting quarterback, McSorley will leave behind a host of memories, with Saturday's comeback ranking right up there. He takes pride in his gutsy play and what it means to his team.
"It's just one of those things that it's kind of how I feel like I'm able to make a difference in my play and affect other people through those sort of things, just kind of continue to be that player," he said. "That's kind of who I am and who I've always been. and I'm not really changing or anything like that."