Can we just stop for a second? Can we all just take a deep breath?
A 17-year-old high schooler from Ohio right now is supposed to be the deep breath that Penn State’s football program has desperately needed. Instead, this Saturday, it got one from a true freshman Canadian who hadn’t played meaningful snaps at quarterback since precedented times.
If Medina, Ohio’s Drew Allar is the future, the chosen one, the one that will finally get James Franklin to the highest mountain in the sport, Christian Veilleux would like to say something about that first — and that’s a very good problem to have.
Now, look. It was Rutgers. But Veilleux’s 235-yard, three-touchdown day gave Penn Staters something to be excited about that’s really real and tangible now. Even though this season is almost over, the problem with Allar is that he’s still not on campus. Veilleux is.
Veilleux provided a jolt to the Penn State offense that we haven’t seen since a few minutes prior to Sean Clifford getting hit in the ribs in Kinnick Stadium and the Nittany Lions’ season started to spiral out of control.
As the season went from 60 to 0 real quick, Penn Staters, myself included, turned to high school football reporters and recruiting experts for viral videos of Allar looking like my NCAA Football 15 Race to the Heisman player on freshman mode. The 5-star No. 1 QB recruit in the country was chucking absolute bombs and leading his Medina Battling Bees to a deep run in the Ohio high school football playoffs. It was the saving grace of a season filled with expectations broken, coaching rumors spreading and semi-public fights for raises and facility upgrades.
But the fact of the matter is Allar isn’t on the GoPSUSports.com football roster and Veilleux wanted to remind you of that.
Veilleux’s precision on his first touchdown throw to Jahan Dotson in the tiniest of windows did not look like it came from a quarterback who hasn’t played since 2019. The Canadian’s second touchdown throw came with more football players from New Jersey in his face than the Sopranos had supporting characters, and then there was the dime that he threw to Tyler Warren that may have been the best catch of Penn State’s season. Most importantly, he didn’t do anything stupid with the ball. Veilleux looked like a quarterback who belongs in the conversation for a job at a major Power 5 school.
At this point, you’re probably thinking two things: 1. Darian doesn’t think Allar is coming to Penn State and 2. Darian is already spinning the quarterback competition battle of the century — one that Penn State hasn’t really had since the days of — let me check my notes — Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden.
Again, take a deep breath. I wholeheartedly believe that not only is Allar coming to Penn State, but he’s the answer Franklin has needed. I also think he’s probably a better quarterback than Veilleux. But I certainly feel a lot more confident in the future of Penn State’s quarterback room than I did when I walked into Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
With Allar, I have long felt it’s not been fair to him to put all of this pressure on him so soon. At the end of the day, yes he may be the One, but he’s still not here. He’s still not been taught the offense. He’s still not playing Big Ten defenses. It’s not that I don’t think he can handle it, it’s that right now, he’s 17. When I was 17, I could barely be trusted with a debit card that was tied to my mother’s bank account, let alone the keys to a national championship offense. It’s not fair to put that much pressure on someone who is at least by age still a kid.
So we have to live in the reality that Veilleux is here and now, and Penn State’s final two games are going to be its most important toward the future, especially if Clifford, who is very clearly banged up, is not able to play in one or both of those.
So take a deep breath. Allar may be the fresh air that Penn State’s program needs but Veilleux certainly was the deep breath Penn State’s 2021 season needed.
Darian Somers is a 2016 Penn State graduate currently living in Frederick, Maryland. You can follow him on Twitter at @StuffSomersSays.