Confidence has been pouring off of Sean Clifford throughout the offseason. What the young Penn State quarterback lacks in confidence he overcomes with moxie.
This season, Clifford is expected to make quite the leap, jumping from third-string quarterback to starter, following Trace McSorley’s graduation and Tommy Stevens’ transfer. He’s only thrown seven passes in his career, but he’s talking as if he’s thrown 307. And that’s a good thing for the Nittany Lions.
Recently, Clifford spoke with Audrey Snyder of The Athletic about the upcoming season. With so much change to the roster this offseason, there isn’t quite as much confidence that Penn State will be in the B1G East race very far into the season.
Clifford wants to put an end to that thinking.
“If you don’t think I’m motivated right now then you’re tripping. I’m more motivated now than I ever have been in my life. 100 percent.” Clifford told Snyder. “This is the most excited I’ve been for a season & for a team. I think we’re going to silence a lot of people who are doubting us.”
This wasn’t the first time Clifford made a statement about the direction Penn State is headed. Earlier this offseason — after Stevens decided to leave the program — the former third-stringer promised his teammates that there would be no drop-off at the quarterback position.
His leadership in that moment helped his teammates rally around him.
“I’m just making sure that everyone on the team is moving in the right direction,” Clifford said.
Clifford enters the 2019 season as the favorite to win the starting job in State College, though head coach James Franklin is not ready to make any guarantees. He finished last year having completed 5-of-7 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in four games.
Nobody is expecting Clifford to put up McSorley-like numbers in his first season under center. He’s replacing a player who rewrote the Penn State record book. But as far as leadership is concerned, Clifford seems to have that aspect covered.