The Penn State football program has rebounded nicely since NCAA sanctions were lifted in 2014. In the last three years, the Nittany Lions have gone 31-9 with a Big Ten title in 2016. This season, however, Penn State will have to replace record-setting quarterback Trace McSorley, who holds most of the program’s passing records including career yards and touchdowns.
According to the Inquirer, Penn State could be without quarterback Tommy Stevens due to injury. The redshirt senior was limited in practice on March 13, the opening day of spring practice.
Stevens is in the middle of a quarterback competition with Sean Clifford, so not being able to fully participate does not help his case for the top spot on the depth chart.
Stevens did participate in the opening day of practice but was very limited. He missed the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day due to injury and had surgery for it in the offseason. Stevens also missed the first four games of the 2018 season due to a foot injury.
Despite not starting and missing time due to injury, Stevens carved himself a role as a do-everything guy for head coach James Franklin. In his limited playing time, Stevens has amassed 14 total touchdowns at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.
Penn State was so desperate to get him on the field that offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne created the “Lion” position. Stevens’ athleticism is superior to Clifford, but he does not have Clifford’s accuracy. Freshmen quarterbacks Michael Johnson Jr. and Taquan Roberson enrolled early, giving them a great opportunity to compete for the starting job as well.
Stevens’ experience as McSorley’s backup is important as he got to learn from the most successful quarterback in school history. His grasp on the offense is higher than all of the other quarterbacks on the roster as this will be his fifth year at Penn State. The severity of Stevens’ injury is yet to be determined, but it could force him out of the starting quarterback job for the 2019 season.