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Penn State Football: In His Own Words, James Franklin On McSorley And Stevens

by on March 14, 2016 2:00 PM

It has been quite some time since Penn State football has had itself a true quarterback race. The last time it happened, there was about a whole seven days of uncertainty as to whether or not Christian Hackenberg would start his first game at Penn State or not. Aside from that there hasn't been any doubt who would be under center for the last three years.

Before that it was Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin which in many ways was the messiest most poorly managed quarterback battles that you could imagine.

But now in 2016 the future of Penn State's quarterback position is truly up in the air. Back up Trace McSorley is the leader in the clubhouse, largely because of his play in the bowl loss to Georgia. Even so, Tommy Stevens and freshman Jake Zembiec are the next two candidates in line to give it a go.

With spring practice set to start this Friday there are three basic questions that need answering when it comes to how James Franklin and Joe Moorhead will go about selecting the next starting quarterback: How does leadership play into the selection? When will it happen? And how much does experience matter?

Instead of guessing, here's James Franklin on all three things.


Yeah, I think it's always a factor. It is always a factor. That was a big part of us recruiting Trace, taking his team to four state championships. You look at the type of success they had before he became the starter and until afterwards.

Tommy, some similarities there, as well, what he was able to do at his high school had not really been done before. That's a major factor. Leadership is going to be really important for us.

I talked about last year, there was a team in our conference I think had 44 seniors recognized on Senior Day. We're in a situation where we still don't have many seniors. We are still working through that. So there's going to be a lot of responsibility put on those guy, as well as the quarterbacks.


Yeah, you know, I think you always would like to try to have your quarterback named as early as possible so they can go into the summer and really take ahold of the team. But I also, we don't want to make that decision just because of that.

We want to make sure we're making the right decision, No. 1. And if that becomes obvious very early on, great. If it needs to go to summer camp, we're willing to go to summer camp and if it needs to be the first game, you guys are waiting for us to announce the starter, that could be the case, as well.

I think it wouldn't surprise if me that goes to camp, just as competitive as those two guys have been with each other. And you never know what's going to happen with a guy like Jake Zembiec, you just never know. It's hard to keep him part of the equation right now because we haven't seen him but you never know. It wouldn't surprise me if that goes to camp.


I think the Bowl game was obviously important for Trace because he got into a game at a point where it had not already been decided and really made some plays. Made some tough throws, made some plays with his feet. Really took control and showed some fire on the sideline and had fun doing it. That was great for him I think, and his confidence going into the season and really for the coaches, as well because you never truly know until someone gets in there in that type of situation, and I think he did pretty well.

Tommy has a lot of those traits from a leadership standpoint. The guys really like him on our team. Obviously he has a different body type. He's a big kid and he's getting bigger every single day. His length, his movement. If you look at testing numbers, he did not test as well as Trace in term of pro agility in terms of 40.

But if you talk to our players, he plays as fast as Trace on the field. That goes back to kind of what we were talking about before, when he would pull the ball down, he would take off and he's got this long stride and he's a guy that could make plays with his arm or his feet.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
Next Article
Penn State Football: What To Know From James Franklin's Spring Press Conference
March 14, 2016 1:45 PM
by Ben Jones
Penn State Football: What To Know From James Franklin's Spring Press Conference
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