Why Penn State should host an open quarterback competition in 2022

Penn State’s quarterback went from incomplete to compelling on Monday, as nationally ranked prospects Drew Allar and Beau Pribula grew from rookies to freshmen.

Allar and Pribula were among nine freshmen in Penn State’s Recruiting Class of 2022 who registered early and will be available for spring drills. The question is whether they will have a real chance of competing for the starting position in 2022 and materializing one of coach James Franklin’s four core values: being competitive in everything you do.

It’s an intriguing idea, because it is perhaps the most talented quarterback room Franklin has assembled at Penn State.

Sean Clifford: Penn State’s first quarterback in sixth grade and possibly its first captain in four years, Clifford is coming back perhaps as the most seasoned player in Penn State history. He’ll be 24 at the start of the season, older than some graduate assistants, with a chance to become the program’s first 10,000-yard passer.

Christian Veilleux: The freshman played a pretty sharp game, all things considered, in the Lions’ 28-0 victory over Rutgers, demonstrating an arm strength Clifford lacks. Veilleux played briefly in the Outback Bowl – after Clifford was medically withdrawn, according to Franklin – but still retained his red shirt, giving him four years of eligibility.

Draw Allar: The “cornerstone” of Penn State’s 2022 recruiting class, according to SI’s John Garcia, Jr., Allar is the highest-ranked quarterback Franklin has drafted at Penn State. Ohio’s “Mr. Football” threw for an incredible 4,444 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior at Medina High and came to Penn State after starting in the All-American Bowl.

Beautiful Pribula: Another freshman enrolled early, Pribula is an All-State Quarterback in Pennsylvania and was named Player of the Year in the state’s largest division in 2020. Pribula was responsible for 42 touchdowns as a result. than senior, throwing 33.

There is something for every trainer in this room, from the beginner who has seen it all to the exceptional young talent at modeling. And Franklin should point the finger at his core values ​​to say, “Everyone has a chance. “

In fact, he’s probably covering himself up. Franklin and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich welcomed Clifford for a sixth season, citing quarterback experience, insight knowledge and leadership skills. Clifford has a great locker room personality and is eager to mentor Allar and Pribula just like he did for Veilleux.

“I think Sean is as good as any quarterback I have known in college when it comes to preparation, watching movies, studying the game and defenses,” Franklin said. “I think it’s going to be really valuable for these two quarters. I think, obviously, also with the experience of Veilleux that he was able to acquire last year, we are in a good position at quarterback with these two guys.

These two guys, along with Veilleux, should be more than students, though. Clifford struggled in one of his worst games at Penn State in the Outback Bowl, completing a season low 43.8% of his passes and throwing two interceptions.

While this game didn’t define Clifford’s season, it did activate a few lights indicating the quarterback has reached his threshold. A healthy Clifford is most likely to start the opener at Purdue in September. That shouldn’t mean Clifford is in the job in perpetuity.

Veilleux, Allar and Pribula are entering the season in exceptional positions. Veilleux moved up from 3rd to 2nd in the regular season, capitalized on his only start and gave the Lions a viable save.

Allar is the recruiting prodigy with the size (6-5, 225 pounds), tools, and common sense to be a newbie in first grade. Franklin acknowledges this, although he suggests bringing the quarterback methodically.

“He’s a big kid who can fit in the pocket and deliver the ball,” Franklin said. “I think people underestimated his athleticism as well. He does a great job doing some of the pieces that might not be in the playbook in terms of expanding pieces and throwing off balance with precision. amazing. You know, [he has] playing ability. “

Moreover, the head coach will not neglect Pribula, for whom he has high expectations. At the Penn State signing ceremony, Franklin made quite a comparison.

“You are the total package,” Franklin told Pribula. “You know what I think about Trace McSorley and the way he’s handled his career. I don’t disrespect Trace, but I think you have a chance to do things that Trace couldn’t do. . “

All three will have the stamp of a veteran to guide them, but are also expected to be the main quarterbacks this spring. Clifford will probably, and rightly so, watch this spring as those three-quarters get all practice reps. Clifford probably shouldn’t even be in uniform for April’s blue-white game. Let’s leave that to Veilleux, Allar and Pribula.

As a three-year-old starter, Clifford has the wisdom to know his way through the preparation process. And he understands the inherent benefit, having already learned his lesson.

“Because as soon as you walk in the stars disappear, and that’s really what you do on the pitch,” Clifford said. “That’s what it was to me when I got here. You know I thought I was something out of high school and then you come here and you have Trace McSorely and you fight and when our workouts and he beats your ass. So that’s one of those things where we can talk about stars and class and all that but, once you get here you have to prove it. “

Yes they do. Still, Veilleux, Allar and Pribula deserve a real chance to try. This will engage them more effectively in the offensive, especially real freshmen, and might refresh the starter as well.

But will Franklin deliver one? Here’s what he said in December about that prospect.

“Like a baseball pitcher who can dominate games, quarterbacks have the ability to do it too,” Franklin said. “I think college football has probably become even more quarterback-centric than it maybe 10-15 years ago. The NFL has been like that for a long time.

“So what I want to try to do is support Drew as much as possible and Beau through this process. I think Sean’s feedback helps because I think we want to find that fine line of the way we prepare these guys and develop them but also don’t put too much pressure on them that comes with the type of rankings and reviews they have. “

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