I have to admit that I have had a severe case of writer’s block with this particular column. Mix in some procrastination, and that’s why you’re reading this just a few days before kickoff.
But it’s with reason.
I have no clue what to expect about this Penn State football season, and neither do you. But what I can tell you about this Penn State football season is that it depends on one man. No, not James Franklin, not Manny Diaz, not Mike Yurcich, but Sean Clifford.
It’s time for me to write this column and for Sean Clifford to be the sixth-year quarterback that we have patiently waited for him to be.
Much like the way the season went last year, this year will once again depend on the arms, legs and most importantly, brain of Clifford. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know or expect with this piece of information.
But what I can tell you is that never before ahead of a Penn State football season that I can remember have I been so unsure about how good or not good this team is. They’ve certainly got the weapons to win 10 games, maybe more.
But I’ve also seen what’s happened when the season goes south over the last few years. Forgive the train cliche the week of the Purdue game, but boy, do the wheels fall off the tracks like Tyrone’s great circus train wreck of 1893. (I’m from Altoona, in case you couldn’t tell after that reference.)
More now than ever, though, if Penn State wants to have the type of season that can launch itself into the future, it needs Clifford to be the best leader since his predecessor Trace McSorley.
For every ounce he put into his NIL-deal-making-potential-union-start-offseason leadership, it’s time for Clifford to lead this team to a much-needed bounce-back year for national relevance. And by now, he should be the one to take those reigns over.
And for that matter, I think he’s going to be the one that can do it.
Clifford has a unique opportunity that no Penn State QB or maybe even player has had. He’s going into his 6th season at Penn State and his fourth in the spotlight.
I said this a while back when Drew Allar signed with Penn State. There’s no one I’d rather have leading this team into West Lafayette at night than Clifford. I don’t care how good Allar is; I trust Clifford more.
When Clifford’s Penn State career is all said and done, I don’t know that we are going to remember him for what he did on the field. Despite likely ending his career with every major Penn State football passing stat title – many of which he will take away from McSorley- it will be what Clifford did off the field that stands as his legacy.
But he’s got one more chance to prove you and me wrong.
Darian Somers is a 2016 Penn State graduate currently living in Frederick, Maryland. You can follow him on Twitter at @StuffSomersSays. You can listen to his podcast, Stuff Somers Says with Steve Sampsell, every week on major podcast outlets.