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Penn State Football: Timing Doesn't Matter Much In Naming Starting Quarterback

by on August 08, 2016 1:00 PM

It certainly seems safe to assume that Trace McSorley will be Penn State's starting quarterback come Week One of the season. Two years as the primary backup, a little bit of regular season playing time and a whole half of a bowl game under his belt seem to make him the obvious choice. Add in the fact that he played better, or at least had better opportunities, in the spring game than his counterpart Tommy Stevens and there doesn't seem to be much guesswork left.

But that doesn't mean McSorley will officially be named the starter this week.

"Trace has the advantage the last two years of being a back-up quarterback," Coach James Franklin said last week at the team's media day. "There was a gap after the spring, but the gap wasn't significant. So this summer and this camp is going to give Trace the ability to keep the gap, and Tommy has had the ability from the end of spring ball now to close the gap. Then we'll look at the first couple weeks of camp and see where we're at at that point.

"I think Trace, like I mentioned before, has done some really nice things. But I think Tommy also has shown a tremendous ability as well. Mentally, Trace was a little bit ahead of Tommy during spring, but Tommy has had the opportunity to close that gap. So I don't think it will be in the first week.

"I think we'll get in a situation where maybe by week two or game week that we'll make the announcement. I just don't know. The decision hopefully will be clear to everybody and it won't be much of a decision that we have to make as a coaching staff. It will be clear to everybody."

Week two isn't really for a few more days. The Nittany Lions only just started practice on Thursday, which gives Stevens a bit more time to close to gap, even if that seems unlikely.

In truth, naming McSorley the starter in the upcoming seven days would be one of the earliest quarterback decision dates in recent memory. A look back through the news archives and only one of the last five quarterbacks to start for Penn State has officially been named the starter before Aug. 27. Anthony Morelli somewhat unofficially inherited the job after Michael Robinson's graduation. Even Daryll Clark wasn't named the starter until Aug. 27, and that was hardly a surprise in the first place.

Fast-forward to the post-Clark years and Rob Bolden wasn't officially given the job publicly until Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 of consecutive years while battling it out with Matt McGloin. 

McGloin is really the only outlier of the bunch with Bill O'Brien naming him the starter at a charity event on June 1 in 2012. But even with a competition going on throughout the spring that job was really only ever McGloin's to lose. And from there it was Christian Hackenberg who was named the starter to the team weeks before the season and never officially announced, although multiple reports publicly named him the starter on Aug. 30.

So if history is any indication it doesn't really matter when Penn State finally names McSorley or even Stevens the starting quarterback, and, if it happens in the next week or so, it will be one of the earliest announcements in the past 10 years.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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