When it comes to projecting the depth chart at my position on Penn State’s roster in 2021, the quarterback position is pretty darn easy to do. Sean Clifford is locked in as the starting quarterback as he enters his third year in the role after succeeding Trace McSorley. The issue Penn State faces is a lack of experience behind him.
One of the biggest questions during the spring was what Penn State would be able to do to address the lack of experience behind their starting quarterback. If Clifford is injured or seems off track as he was at the start of the 2020 season, Penn State head coach James Franklin doesn’t exactly have a quarterback he should feel too comfortable in throwing out on the field in the heat of the action.
Or does he?
The possibility of adding a transfer quarterback that fits what Penn State is trying to do offensively with new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich was atop the offseason to-do list for Franklin and the Nittany Lions. Franklin stressed Penn State would be reluctant to add a transfer quarterback just to add one and instead insisted it was important to find someone who was the right fit. As camp nears its opening, no transfer quarterback has made his way through the transfer portal to Happy Valley, suggesting Penn State either never found their ideal fit on the market or they missed out on the best option.
Is it Sean Clifford or bust for the Penn State offense, or has Franklin gained more confidence in what the Nittany Lions have behind him on the depth chart?
Here’s a look at the projected quarterback depth chart for the 2021 season.
Starter: Sean Clifford
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There is no reason to overthink this one. Sean Clifford will be the starting quarterback for his third season, and he will do so with his third offensive coordinator. But this may be the best season for Clifford yet given the support around him and the upgrade at offensive coordinator. As long as he cuts down on the mistakes from a year ago, Penn State’s offense should be fine.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Should Penn State need to go to a backup at any point this season, expect the first name off the sideline to be Ta’Quan Roberson. The redshirt sophomore has appeared in just two games the last two seasons, and he did so in a very limited capacity behind former backup Will Levis. He has just one pass attempt coming into the season, which is why Franklin should have at least some concern about using Roberson in a big spot if needed. That’s not to suggest Roberson will flounder, but it is an unknown until we see what happens.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
True freshman Christian Veilleux may make a case for the starting job in 2022, but do not count on seeing a ton of him in any significant role in 2021 barring some serious setbacks to the guys ahead of him. Veilleux did not have a senior season of football due to the season being canceled, so it has been a while since he’s seen any real game time of any form. But the four-star recruit brings with him a good amount of talent to look forward to in the coming years. He will get some snaps this season, but Penn State likely won’t be in any tense situations when he does.