Trace McSorley wasn't sure what to make of the text message. The Penn State quarterback received it Monday night from coach James Franklin's secretary, who asked if McSorley could meet Franklin in his office at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Of course, the redshirt sophomore knew that he had been battling for a starting job, and that a decision was imminent.
But McSorley told himself this meeting would be normal. He slept well, and wasn't nervous when he arrived at the coach's office the next morning.
Then Franklin and new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead broke the news: McSorley was officially Penn State's starting quarterback.
"It's been a long process since the beginning of January when this all started," McSorley said. "It was definitely a relief and a weight off my shoulders."
Franklin made the announcement after practice Wednesday night, 10 days before the Nittany Lions take on Kent State at home in the season opener.
Since Christian Hackenberg's departure for the NFL, Franklin had held off on naming a successor for the three-year starter, saying he wanted to give redshirst freshman quarterback Tommy Stevens time to close the gap.
"I think the biggest thing is [McSorley] has been the backup quarterback for two years," Franklin said Wednesday. "He has game experience. He has the bowl game. There is value in that."
The 6-foot, 201-pound Ashburn, Va., native received his first meaningful game action after Hackenberg left the TaxSlayer Bowl in January with a right shoulder injury. Playing in the second quarter of that game, a 24-17 loss to Georgia, McSorley finished 14 of 27 for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
He also impressed in the Blue-White scrimmage in April. He played most of the game with the presumed first-teamers, throwing for 281 yards and four touchdowns, albeit against the second-string and other reserves on defense.
However, Franklin said the decision was a difficult one, and was made recently, not during spring ball, despite public speculation to the contrary.
Franklin said Stevens was naturally disappointed upon hearing the news but came back the next day ready to improve and help the team.
"All credit to Tommy. He had a great camp," McSorley said. "This team will be better because of how this competition went with us pushing each other."
After finding out he would be the starter, McSorley first told his parents, Rick and Andrea, over breakfast in downtown State College. They were in town for McSorley's 21st birthday, which also happened to be Tuesday. Then he went to class and hung out with friends, he said, just like any other day.
He also met with Stevens, whom McSorley said he is still close with despite the competition. McSorley said he told Stevens: "Let's keep pushing each other."
Any chance both quarterbacks will play this year?
"You always like to have one quarterback, and you don't want [McSorley] peeking over his shoulder," Franklin said. "We're going to try not to have a two-quarterback system while I'm here."