Before backup quarterback Tommy Stevens made his decision to stay at Penn State known to the masses, he showed Trace McSorley a tweet he planned to post.
Stevens’ selection — a clip from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street where Leonardo DiCaprio stands in front of the office and emphatically proclaims that they’re going to need a wrecking ball to take him out of here — was an instant hit once news of the quarterback’s decision to stay started to trickle out.
“For a while, I knew he was kind of going to end up staying and it just hadn’t been released to the media and everything,” McSorley said following Penn State’s spring practice last week. “There were still all the questions about what was going to happen, but as a group he had been around us this winter, he’s been at workouts, he looked around a little bit but after awhile he just kind of decided this was the place for him.
“He actually told us the day before he announced it that he was going to send out that tweet so I was like, ‘All right, let me know when you send it out and we’ll have some fun with it.’ ”
Stevens’ teammates and Penn State fans did have fun with it as it circulated the internet and the versatile quarterback settled back into his Lion role within the offense. While much of the focus this spring has been on McSorley’s backups, the quarterback, headed into his final season at Penn State, met with the media last week, when he touched on several topics.
Here are some of the highlights from McSorley’s availability with the media:
Q: Given Tommy’s injury and the fact that you’ve been through spring ball many times before, what’s been different about this spring at Penn State for you?
A: “Sometimes we’re getting [Sean] Clifford a little more reps and things like that, but it hasn’t really been less reps for me or anything. It’s been more from my perspective trying to teach and bring along some of these other guys and building chemistry with the new guys that we got.”
Q: [Coach] James Franklin said Clifford has a lot to gain this spring because of his opportunity. What can you tell us about Clifford as a quarterback?
A: “He’s a really good athlete. He’s got a strong arm and really what you kind of love about him is his competitiveness and how much he really wants to be successful. That’s the exciting thing about him is he’s hardworking, he’s diligent and he wants to be successful so bad that it drives everyone else to be successful and do everything they can around him.”
Q: Franklin said that Clifford works out with you every day. What do you think that does for him by pairing him up with an older guy? What’s the benefit of that for both him and you?
A: “When I was working out with Christian [Hackenberg] or I was working out with Tommy, we push each other. I think that’s the best thing that coach [Dwight] Galt does in the weight room is he creates an extremely competitive environment and I think that’s where the most benefit comes in when you got a younger guy working with an older guy that’s kind of been established in the program, that’s who they’re trying to come up and chase and that person is going to try to beat out that person, so it makes a competitive environment out of everybody.”
Q: What was your reaction when you found out that Stevens was staying?
A: “I was happy, obviously. Tommy is a tremendous teammate and friend and he’s a tremendous athlete for us and a tremendous quarterback. I think it says something about him in a day and age where a lot of guys when their number isn’t called right away or they’re not liking the situation they’re in, they bow out right away and try and find somewhere where the grass is greener. And it talks about who Tommy is, how mature he is and what kind of person he is. He decided that this was the best place for him still and I give him total credit for that and I think that also speaks to the program that we’re building for the future of the program that even in a situation where a lot of people would look at him and say, ‘Why wouldn’t he transfer?’ he’s going to be able to graduate and for him to still stick with the program and stay at the place that makes him the most happy and the place where he feels most comfortable.”
Q: Given the playmakers lost this offseason with Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton, do you expect the Penn State offense to be different this year?
A: “No, I mean the system, scheme is going to be pretty much what we’ve been doing. If it’s broke, don’t fix it, so that’s kind of the method that we’re going with there.”
Q: What’s your perspective on the safeties this spring? Franklin said that Garrett Taylor has had a great spring. With Lamont Wade, Nick Scott, what’s your perspective on all of them?
A: “Those dudes fly around. Nick is back there, he’s always trying to disguise and show us different looks. With his athleticism, you can show him one thing, and the next thing you know, he’s flying across the field because he has that speed and that athleticism and range to cover that. Garrett has been extremely good in deep coverage this year and aggressive in the run game. Then you move Lamont back there and it’s a new position for him, but he’s doing well. He’s adjusted to it and he’s making strides and every single day he’s doing what he can to get better and better and learning the nuances of what it takes to be a safety as opposed to a corner. Then you got guys like Jonathan Sutherland, who is a young, hungry dude. Coach Franklin was talking about how every single play for him is like the Super Bowl. The dude loves playing football and he loves going 1,000 percent every single time, and that’s who he is. I think the competition that we got in that room, it pushes the guys in front of them.”
Q: What’s your outlook for the offensive line and how have they looked thus far?
A: “I’m excited for those guys. You now got six, seven guys with legitimate starting experience and you got two young guys right now, three really in Des [Holmes], Mike Miranda and C.J. [Thorpe] that they kind of bring a young hunger to those older guys and push them, and right now they’ve been a bright spot for us during spring ball. They get great movement and it’s one of those positions where you get four or five guys who’ve worked together for a couple years now and that chemistry amongst them, just like quarterbacks and receivers, they understand how they work tougher and how to combo the linebackers, slide in pass protection and what have you. Those guys, it’s been a really bright spot for our offense and I’m excited.”