For the last three seasons, Saquon Barkley has stolen the show in Happy Valley.
Now, it’s quarterback Trace McSorley’s turn.
McSorley just wrapped up spring practice a week ago at the Blue-White Game, but he’s already generating plenty of hype. The Sporting News’ Bill Bender recently named him the best college quarterback in the nation, ahead of the likes of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Arizona’s Khalil Tate and Georgia’s Jake Fromm. And on Thursday, ESPN’s Dan Murphy compared him to the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
“McSorley may not have the same fiery off-field personality as Mayfield,” Murphy wrote, “but on Saturdays he’s a versatile playmaker who plays with an attitude.”
Granted, Murphy isn’t saying that McSorley is in line to be a first-round draft pick. But the comparison is still an interesting one.
Mayfield is a 6-foot-1, 215-pound prospect who was forced to walk-on at Oklahoma. McSorley is 6-foot, 198 pounds and was recruited by most colleges as a safety. Mayfield was one of the preseason favorites to win the Heisman, before actually winning; McSorley is Bovada’s ninth-most likely prospect to win it this season. (He’s 18-to-1 to claim the trophy this year.)
Bender of the Sporting News had this to say: “McSorley lost one start in high school and has only lost five starts the last two seasons for the Nittany Lions. He’s a winner, a three-year starter and a smart quarterback who has compiled 59 touchdowns and 18 interceptions for his career.”
As Bender also notes, the big question this season may center around how McSorley fares without Barkley and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. But he was just fine in high school, leading his team to four straight state title appearances — and he fared all right in the Moorhead-less Fiesta Bowl, going 32 of 41 for 342 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. (He also rushed for 60 yards.)
McSorley is the star of this season’s offense. And the spotlight can’t get much brighter in May than being named college’s top signal-caller and earning comparisons to the No. 1 overall draft pick.