James Franklin may not be ready to name Penn State’s starting quarterback for the 2019 season, but Pro Football Focus is.
The national outlet ranked redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford No. 31 in the country among all starting quarterbacks entering the season.
Clifford is fourth in the Big Ten behind Michigan’s Shea Patterson (No. 13), Ohio State’s Justin Fields (No. 16), and Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez (No. 24).
Fields, who was committed to Penn State before flipping to Georgia and ultimately transferring to Ohio State, is one of a few players on the list with ties to the Nittany Lions.
Another former commit, Central Florida’s Brandon Wimbush, is ranked No. 64, while Mississippi State’s Tommy Stevens, who transferred form Penn State this spring, came in at No. 63.
The list is based on PFF’s play-by-play data and takes into account a player’s PFF grade from last season and all other subsequent sets of data the site has on the player’s time in college. While the list is projecting each team’s starter, the backup who would play if an injury occurs influences the list, the site says.
Clifford enters the season with limited in-game experience. He completed 5-of-7 passes in his redshirt freshman year for 195 yards and two touchdowns, including a 95-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman wide receiver Daniel George that set the record for longest pass play in Penn State history.
The list called Clifford “the most unknown among the top 50 quarterbacks” but set high expectations for his first year as a starter.
“He can float the ball with perfect touch just as he can punch the ball into tight windows and with a much larger sample size incoming this season,” the story said. “Expect big things from Clifford and his pass-catchers.”
Clifford and the Nittany Lions will begin the season at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 31 when they take on Idaho at Beaver Stadium.