Penn State Athletics
Trace McSorley is approaching his second year as Penn State's regular quarterback.

Trace (McSorley) element is a certain ruthlessness, Penn State track coach and athlete honored, and more

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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Wednesday, May 17. Let’s get started.

Trace McSorley’s M.O.

Penn State passing game coordinator and tight ends coach Ricky Rahne retweeted a short school-produced video Tuesday featuring quarterback Trace McSorley, which in part shows McSorley exhorting his teammates in the locker room at halftime of a game last season.

The money quote is this:

“It’s all about being ruthless.”

That sums up McSorley rather well, and led Rahne to conclude that the redshirt junior QB is “the BEST competitor in the country.”

Gotta be up there. Every PSU offensive play starts with him, and the rest of the players seem to take their cues from him. He led one comeback after another last season, and barring injury, he figures to set the tone for the year ahead.

A friend and high school teammate, Wake Forest tight end Cam Serigne, said before last season that McSorley “just has that gene inside him that just makes him a competitor, and just a winner.”

That is true. McSorley’s dad, Rick, played football at Richmond, and a paternal uncle, Jeff, played at Marshall. But McSorley seems to have taken his gifts a step further.

Serigne recalled McSorley’s dogged attempts to master video games; he simply wouldn’t quit until he conquered one of them. Charlie Pierce, who coached both of them at Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Va., talked about McSorley leading a decisive 88-yard drive in his first game as a freshman starter.

Briar Woods won a state title that year. And the year after. And the year after that. The school also reached the state final in McSorley’s senior year, but lost.

He finished his high school career with a 55-5 record and committed to Vanderbilt when James Franklin was there. There was talk of playing him at safety, since he had also excelled there in high school, but Rahne, who was on Franklin’s staff at Vanderbilt, took another look and decided quarterback was his best spot.

McSorley, for his part, decided to tag along when Franklin moved to PSU in January 2014. He redshirted that fall, and his 2015 apprenticeship behind Christian Hackenberg is notable for the near-comeback he engineered in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Georgia, after Hackenberg was injured.

Then there was last year, with the nine-game winning streak, the 11-3 finish, the surprise Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl berth.

McSorley can be a more accurate passer – he clicked on 57.9 percent of his attempts in ’16 – but no way can he be more ruthless.

And that goes a long way.

John Gondak, Malik Moffett honored

PSU’s John Gondak was unanimously named Big Ten Men’s Track Coach of the Year after leading the Lions to the first conference title in school history, and senior Malik Moffett was named field athlete of the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championship for his school-record 26-3 long jump.

Moffett also won the 200 and Isaiah Harris took the 800 at Saturday’s meet, which Penn State hosted. In all the Lions earned 10 medals and racked up 117 points.

The conference coach of the year award was Gondak’s third. He was also honored for his work with the cross country team in 2015, as well as the women’s indoor track team earlier this year.

Zain Retherford, David Taylor to compete

PSU’s Zain Retherford, the two-time NCAA wrestling 149-pound champion, and former Lions star David Taylor will be part of a U.S. team that will battle Team Japan at the Beat the Streets benefit Wednesday in New York City.

Retherford earned the Hodge Award as the nation’s top collegiate wrestler this season, while helping the Lions capture their sixth national championship in seven seasons.

Taylor, a 2014 Penn State graduate, was part of the first four of those title teams, winning a pair of NCAA individual crowns. He also took his second career U.S. Open title this season, and was a bronze medalist at the 2013 World University Games.

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