Penn State Football

Why Sean Clifford was named Penn State football’s starting quarterback

Penn State finally made it official: Redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford is the Nittany Lions’ 2019 starting quarterback.

The football program announced the decision via Twitter on Friday — making redshirt freshman Will Levis the backup — although the news caught virtually no one by surprise. This move was expected for months.

Shortly after the more-experienced Tommy Stevens transferred in April, Clifford stood up in a team meeting and promised the room, “There will be no drop-off in the QB position.” He carried himself with the confidence of a starter, and he quickly grew into the leader of the offense.

“His process is just unmatched,” wideout Dan Chisena said earlier this month. “The level of preparation he’s been putting in this entire summer has been really impressive.”

Added wideout Mac Hippenhammer: “He’s really taking control.”

Clifford has been waiting for this moment since high school. He committed to Penn State after his sophomore high school season — on July 13, 2015 — and was the first member of the 2017 recruiting class. Once he got on campus, head coach James Franklin praised his competitive spirit, recalling last fall how he broke his hand after punching a weight-room bench upon missing a goal. Last season, he saw limited time on the field — but took over backup duties when Stevens was injured.

Now, with Trace McSorley in the NFL and Stevens with Mississippi State, Clifford is the clear — and official — No. 1. And if he harbored any doubts, he wasn’t sharing them last month ahead of camp.

“This is the most confident and most ready I’ve ever been in my life,” Clifford said at the time.

Clifford and the Nittany Lions will open up the 2019 season at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 31 against Idaho.