James Franklin Still Silent on Who Will Start at Quarterback

By Barry Leonard on August 4, 2019 at 2:40 pm
James Franklin- Penn State
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

James Franklin isn't ready to divulge who his starting quarterback will be in 2019.

Franklin has enjoyed three seasons of a pretty easy decision when thinking about who will play quarterback for the Nittany Lions. Trace McSorley was a three-year starter and rewrote the record books at Penn State after beating out Tommy Stevens for the starting job in 2016. Unfortunately for Franklin, McSorley is now in Baltimore starting his NFL career. 

Franklin recently stated that he's heard good things about McSorley's development with the Ravens. "He's making great decisions. He's making plays and he's putting the offense in position to be successful. So I couldn't be more proud of him."

Even with the known departure of McSorley due to graduation, Franklin was still expecting to have Tommy Stevens around to take over the reins in 2019. However, Stevens opted to transfer from Happy Valley and reunited with former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. 

With McSorley and Stevens both out of the picture, the Nittany Lions are left with a quarterback battle between Sean Clifford and Will Levis. Franklin has been silent on who his starting quarterback will be, and that trend continued when he was asked about it during Penn State's recent Media Day. 

"When we will name a quarterback, I can't tell you. We will do it when it's obvious to
everybody," Franklin said. 

Both quarterbacks have been around the program and have had a chance to develop and learn the system.

Clifford served as the third quarterback last season and saw some limited action in games. He completed five-of-seven passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. His 95-yard touchdown pass against Kent State set a new school record. 

Levis was redshirted last season and will look to make the most of his opportunity this year. 

Outside of Clifford and Levis, Franklin also commented on the play of two freshmen quarterbacks.

"But we have also been impressed with Ta’Quon Roberson and Michael Johnson, as well. Obviously we're going to need at least one of those guys to step up and prepare as if they are the starter, as well, and be ready to play this year. Hopefully, you're in a situation where you can redshirt but we'll see how that plays out."

With the start of the season less than four weeks away, Franklin knows the importance of coming to a decision sooner, rather than later. "Obviously the earlier, the better, for everyone involved."

Penn State opens the season at home on August 31 against Idaho. 

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