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Trace McSorley is Zeroing in on Penn State Records for Quarterback Wins and Starts

by on September 10, 2018 8:00 PM

Trace McSorley’s first start as a Penn State quarterback was on Sept. 3, 2016 — against Kent State.

He was named the starter on his 21st birthday (Aug. 23) just days before that game and Penn State has been celebrating pretty much ever since.

Penn State beat Kent State 33-13 that day, as McSorley threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns (to DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki) and ran for 47 more.

Now 23 and a grad student at PSU, as well as a Heisman Trophy candidate, McSorley has been 24-5 as the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback.

What goes around comes around.

As Penn State is prepping to host Kent State again this Saturday in Beaver Stadium, McSorley is poised to become the winningest starting quarterback in Nittany Lion history.

He is six wins away from passing Todd Blackledge, quarterback of Penn State’s first national champion, in 1982; Chuck Fusina, the Heisman runner-up in 1978 who led PSU to its first regular season No. 1 ranking; and Tony Sacca, a man for the ages, as the PSU QB with the most career wins as a starter. (John Hufnagel sits fourth, at 26.)

Poised is the right word, too.

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“Trace is real poised all the time, even in the two-minute drill — when the game is on the line, last drive,” said running back Miles Sanders said after Penn State beat on Saturday.


With McSorley, that’s always been the case — whether it is at Penn State or back when he was the starting quarterback at Briar Woods High School in northern Virginia.

There, McSorley was 55-5 as the starting QB over four seasons — with three Virginia state titles in four championship game appearances. In all, McSorley is 79-10 as a starting quarterback over the course of what is No. 9’s seventh season as The Starter.

A Sanders may come and a Saquon may go, but The Man in the Penn State offense remains McSorley.

“He is the captain of the ship,” says Sanders. “He keeps us going. He just stays positive.”

McSorley will be making his 30th start as a Penn State quarterback on Saturday, which will place him No. 6 among all-time starts for Penn State quarterbacks. Up ahead are Fusina (32), Blackledge (33), Zack Mills (33), former teammate Christian Hackenberg (38) and the all-time leader in starts, Sacca, with 40.


Do the math:

If McSorley stays healthy — and he has this far, through 919 pass attempts and 320 runs at Penn State — McSorley will hit start No. 39 in the final regular season game of 2018, Nov. 24 against Maryland.

A potential Big Ten playoff game, a berth in the College Football Playoffs and/or a bowl position could push him past Sacca.

Sanders, who had the first 100-yard game of his career against Pitt, hopes that’s the case. It would be good for him and the entire team, as well as McSorley.

“We go,” says Sanders, “as Trace goes.”

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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