Sometimes, it’s never too late to make a decision. Other times, you realize the decision you made happens to be the wrong one when circumstances change. As for quarterback Tommy Stevens, the decision to remain with the Penn State Nittany Lions seems like he delayed the inevitable. On Thursday, the future starting quarterback of the Nittany Lions entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Like many No. 2 quarterbacks in college football, it’s only a matter of time before they become the starting quarterback. Stevens was one of those players over the last three seasons. Thanks to Trace McSorley’s emergence as a primetime performer, Stevens was relegated to the bench with the exception of a few plays.
He completed 2 of 3 passes during his redshirt freshman season. Stevens completed 14 of 27 passes for 3 touchdowns during his sophomore year. Last season, Stevens completed 8 of 11 passes for 1 touchdown and 1 interception. In all, Stevens was 24 of 41 for 304 yards with 4 touchdown passes and 1 interception. Still, the ceiling was high for the relatively unknown product on the college level.
Despite the limite action, Stevens stayed the course. He also had an opportunity to contribute in other ways. Stevens is leaving Penn State with 76 rushing attempts for 506 yards and 8 touchdown runs. He even played some slot receiver in recent years. He caught 14 passes in a Nittany Lion uniform. Twelve of those receptions came in 2017 when he caught 2 touchdown passes. Yet, Stevens has only attempted 41 official pass attempts since high school in 2014.
The main competition came from sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford. Although Clifford has only attempted 7 passes since coming to Happy Valley, it seems he gained the upper hand during spring practice. Clifford is a highly touted 4-star prospect that always had an opportunity to win the starting quarterback job. By all accounts, he has outplayed Stevens. Meaning, they might be in line to have another three-year starting quarterback in their realm, leaving no room for Stevens. Clifford enters the season with 5 completions for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Normally, starting quarterbacks don’t leave. Furthermore, they can see the writing on the wall. If there is any chance Stevens won’t see the field with starting snaps, he knows it’s his last chance gone awry. However, Stevens must find an opportunity to play immediately.
Stevens could always stay and switch positions. He seems to be comfortably playing multiple spots. Yet, he has never gotten an opportunity to play starting quarterback. Therefore, it doesn’t look like a feasible option at this moment.