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James Franklin Explains why Drew Allar is Penn State’s Backup Quarterback

Penn State Head Coach James Franklin

Coming into the first game week of Penn State 2022 season, Christian Veilleux was the presumed favorite to be the team’s backup quarterback behind Sean Clifford. 

The Altoona Mirror’s Neil Rudel asked Franklin if Veilleux was the backup, seemingly expecting confirmation. 

Instead, Franklin surprised reporters in the room, on Zoom, and Penn State fans when he announced true freshman Drew Allar as Penn State’s No. 2 quarterback. 

Franklin didn’t get too specific on what the five-star signee Allar did well in training camp to earn the role, but he made it clear that, right now, the coaching staff sees Allar as Penn State’s second-best quarterback.

“When we take all of the information, coaches opinion, based on their gut and experience, data from everything that we keep track of, that we feel like Drew has earned that opportunity in Week 1,” Franklin said. 

So Veilleux will be the third string, just like he was at the start of last season. 

Franklin pointed out that, last year, Veilleux ended up becoming Clifford’s backup by year’s end.”

“I think we all remember last year as well, and Veilleux… he was a third-string quarterback last year and ended up being the second-team quarterback and came in and did a great job for us. But taking everything into consideration, the coaching staff felt like this was the right decision.”

Over camp, all four of Penn State’s quarterbacks– another true freshman, Beau Pribula, the fourth– got a chance to play with the first and second teams. 

“I think we did a pretty good job all of training camp of getting all four of those guys work,” Franklin said. “We also had a few days where we held Sean for a number of reasons that allowed all of them to get reps maybe up a spot than where they were on the depth chart.”

Franklin also emphasized Clifford’s role with all of Penn State’s other quarterbacks.

“He’s 45 years old,” Franklin said (Clifford is actually 24), “experienced, teaching classes and doing the same thing in the Lasch football building with a lot of our players on offense. I think he embraces that role.

“Drew needs to learn from Sean, and so does (Veilleux) and so does Beau. It’s a really good environment with that whole room, and we’ve worked hard at that, but we need to continue to do that.”

At Penn State’s media day Aug. 6, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said both Allar and Pribula have “grown leaps and bounds” since they arrived at Penn State over the winter. 

 “Just very important that they got (to campus) early,” Yurcich said, “there were a lot of growing pains in the beginning. There were silly mistakes. Now, if there is an error, you can understand the why behind it. Maybe it would be more sophisticated of a look that fooled them on the defensive identification standpoint or progression standpoint, but they have done a really good job improving.”

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