One of the big offseason questions for Penn State this year was whether or not Tommy Stevens will stick around to play for the Nittany Lions or be one looking to explore playing opportunities elsewhere. On Wednesday, Stevens took to Twitter with a select clip from “The Wolf of Wall Street” to let every one of his followers know where his allegiance lies in 2018. He’s staying at Penn State.
“I don’t think it was a very hard decision at all,” Stevens told Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated. “I wanted to look and see if there was a better opportunity for me out there. Ultimately, this is still a fantastic place. I love it here. I have a lot of good friends with great relationships. This is the best place for me.
In the end, Stevens says he still felt Penn State was the best situation for him, even though his chances of becoming the starting quarterback at Penn State appear to be slim. As last year showed, however, Stevens has the opportunity to be a valuable piece of the offense if he is utilized the same way under new offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne as he was at times by former offensive coordinator (and now Mississippi State head coach) Joe Moorehead.
With Stevens set to graduate this spring and given the fact he showed some value to an offense at times last season and has essentially no shot at starting this season, he appeared to be the most likely of Penn State’s quarterbacks to seriously consider a transfer option. As a graduate transfer, Stevens would have been ruled eligible to play this fall at any other football program in the country, and there are always programs looking for a capable quarterback to add to the mix (see: Michigan and Shea Patterson). As I noted in a spring preview post for Athlon Sports recently, it would not be shocking to see one of Penn State’s quarterbacks be on the move after the spring. With Stevens announcing his intent to stay put, it may not be a total shock to see another backup consider a new path, as so often happens in this sport.
It goes without saying Trace McSorley is Penn State’s starting quarterback, and that is not to be contested. McSorley is preparing for his third season as the starting quarterback of the Nittany Lions and he is already being floated around as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate and drawing comparisons to last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
The depth at quarterback is as stacked as it has been in quite some time for Penn State. With McSorley as the veteran starter and Stevens returning to the program in 2018, Penn State arguably has the top 1-2 combo on the QB depth chart around the Big Ten. Throw in redshirt freshman Sean Clifford to the conversation and the future of the quarterback position at Penn State appears bright. Stevens could hypothetically be Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2019 after McSorley moves on, but Clifford could also potentially be the next starting quarterback after McSorley. Jake Zembiec is also still in the program and should not be overlooked either.
Looking farther down the line, Penn State has a dual-threat quarterback in Ta’Quan Roberson lined up for the Class of 2019 and the Class of 2018 just brought in Will Levis to add to the QB depth. It’s probably too early to worry about either of those players weighing their options right now, but Penn State is loaded up on the scholarships at the quarterback position and there’s not always enough room on the field to play them all. Stevens has been a bit of an exception though, and that may carry over to 2018.