Trace McSorley appeared to have Penn State’s starting quarterback job locked up following the annual spring game.
McSorley, a redshirt freshman who has served as Christian Hackenberg’s backup the past two seasons, played all but one series with the starters during the spring game and performed admirably. He was comfortable in new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s system and the competition seemed to be finished.
Coach James Franklin pumped the brakes on that notion, however.
“To sit there and try to say, based on the spring game, it’s obvious that this guy is the starter and this guy is not even close, that’s not fair,” Franklin said last week, according to Fight on State‘s Mark Brennan.
It appears a resolution has not been reached yet, contrary to popular belief. Franklin, who is entering his third year at State College, Pa., appears content with taking things slowly and giving redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens time to make up precious ground in this battle.
“So is there a gap (between McSorley and Stevens in the competition) right now? Yeah, there is a gap,” Franklin said, according to Pickel. “But now, with Tommy having the chance, with the same opportunities over since spring ball until now, I want to give him that opportunity.”
To summarize: Franklin might have admitted McSorley is the leading candidate entering camp, but that doesn’t mean the race is over.
Maybe it should be a done deal by now, though. McSorley has been the better player during spring ball and also was the guy who replaced an injured Hackenberg last season during Penn State’s 24-17 TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Georgia. He actually played pretty well, completing 14-of-27 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort.
Perhaps Franklin just wants to do his due diligence. This is a pivotal season for him after all. Franklin could be placed on the hot seat if Penn State can’t get over the seven-win wall in Year 3. He finally has an opportunity to choose his guy, rather than start an inherited player from the brief Bill O’Brien era.
It’s an important decision that he can’t afford to miss, which makes this approach rather prudent. But the extra time for deliberation likely won’t alter the result. The job is McSorley’s to lose entering August.