Posts Tagged ‘Penn State’

McSorley_Trace (A-17-Iowa-MS) 5260

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley

A school that for years was known as “Linebacker U” has gotten much more attention on the other side of the ball recently. More specifically at quarterback.

Trace McSorley returns for his Senior season in Happy Valley after starting all 27 games the last two years. While slight in frame at six feet tall and just 198 pounds, McSorley set Nittany Lion records after throwing for 3,614 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2016. He followed that up by throwing for 3,570 yards and 28 touchdowns in one less game last year. McSorley earned second team Big Ten honors the last two years and is 1,089 yards away from passing Christian Hackenberg to become Penn State’s career pass yards leader. He’s also the first in school history with back-to-back 3,000 yard passing seasons.

McSorley has a strong arm with a quick release and is highly accurate. He makes others around him better and can extend plays with ease due to his playmaking ability with his feet. Noted college football prognosticator Phil Steele has tabbed McSorley pre-season first team All-Conference.

McSorley doesn’t have any injury history, but serving as his backup is Junior Tommy Stevens, who has seen action in 16 games last two years. At 6’5” and 232 pounds, Stevens has the prototypical size for the next level. Defensive coordinator Brent Pry claims that Stevens would be a starter at 75 percent of the schools playing in the FBS. Despite his size he is actually faster than McSorley and was just beaten out as the starter in 2016.

The extremely deep quarterback room doesn’t end there. Redshirt freshman Sean Clifford was rated by Steele as the No. 15 quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in 2017. Clifford, who has characteristics similar to McSorley, saw a lot of reps this spring and has shown tremendous maturity despite his youth. Sophomore Jake Zembiec was the Gatorade player of the Year in New York as a high school senior, but injuries have limited his college career thus far. Joining the room this fall will be 6’3” 220 pound true freshman Will Levis, who threw for 2,793 yards and 27 touchdowns in his final high school season.

Steele projects the Nittany Lions to average 298 passing yards per game in 2018 so assuming McSorley remains healthy, he’ll obliterate the school record.

Penn State won’t be put in a bad situation when McSorley’s eligibility is exhausted as they’ve built up their quarterback room to be the best in the nation. Whether its Stevens, Clifford, Zembiec, or Levis, the Nittany Lions will have a formidable option under center for years to come.


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It’s not often a program will lose a No. 2 overall NFL draft pick and not feel its effects the following season. While Penn State will be without Saquan Barkley in 2018, Miles Sanders will fill the gap and should show similar production. While Barkley totaled nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year, Sanders has the talent to come close to that.

Noted college football guru Phil Steele rated Sanders as the No. 3 overall running back out of high school in the 2016 recruiting class. The 5’11” 211 pound Junior is physically similar to Barkley. As a true freshman he played in 13 games and averaged 7.4 yards per carry on 25 totes. Last year Sanders played in 12 games, including a start versus Rutgers. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry on 31 rush attempts.

Sanders has unique cutting ability and has shown great route running ability out of the backfield. Along with having a veteran quarterback in Trace McSorley returning, Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin believes that this years offensive line is the best its been since he took over the program in 2014. Steele rates the line the 15th best in the nation.

Sanders was named pre-season third team All-Big Ten from Steele, who projects Penn State to average a solid 155 rushing yards per game in 2018 after averaging 171 over the last two seasons.

After Barkley rushed for over 1,000 yards each of the last three seasons, Sanders should continue that trend in 2018 as he becomes the focal point of the Nittany Lions rushing attack.