ShareThis Page
Penn State

Why QB Tommy Stevens has no regrets staying at Penn State

| Thursday, July 5, 2018, 12:15 a.m.
Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens catches a touchdown pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
Nam Y. Huh | AP
Penn State quarterback Tommy Stevens catches a touchdown pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.

On Saturday, three months after Tommy Stevens publicly announced his decision to remain at Penn State, the do-everything quarterback said he feels the same as his teammates — happy with no regrets.

Stevens mulled a transfer over the offseason in hopes to find a starting job elsewhere. But, in the end, he stuck with the Nittany Lions and reflected on the decision with a smile at Penn State's annual Lift for Life event, which fights rare diseases.

"The people that would come up to me and say, 'I hope you're staying' now come up to me and say, 'I'm glad you stayed,' which is good and kind of what I expected because this place is amazing," said Stevens, who said he's fully recovered from a spring leg injury. "I've come to terms with what I'm going to do, and I'm happy about my decision. I don't regret it at all."

That sentiment was echoed by his teammates, who seemed to toss a compliment Stevens' way every time starting quarterback Trace McSorley was mentioned.

McSorley is the one whose face has graced national magazines and has repeatedly generated Heisman hype. But it's Stevens, the backup, who's also become a household name in Happy Valley.

Like most of his teammates, McSorley said Stevens has earned it.

"He's one of the best dudes on our team," McSorley said. "I think everyone on our team looks at him as a leader, and that's something that sometimes isn't always said about the backup quarterback. His attitude toward everything — it's awesome to see how everyone views him as one of the leaders of this entire team, and not just the offense."

It's no secret that Stevens would like McSorley's job. The 6-foot-5, 230-plus pound redshirt junior doesn't show up to the practice field every day or push himself to bench 300 pounds just to be QB2.

But he's accepted his role within the offense, and he plans to make the most of it. In truth, his role isn't a terrible consolation prize — he'll be listed on the roster as the "Lion," which is essentially Penn State coachspeak for a slash-type player who could run, catch or pass at any time.

"With the production that we lost out of Saquon (Barkley), Mike (Gesicki), DaeSean (Hamilton), I think obviously someone's got to increase and take more of the reps," Stevens said. "So I'm expecting my role to increase but within the constraints of the offense.

"However Coach (Ricky) Rahne and the offensive staff decide to use me, I'm going to work as hard as I can to be successful in that role."

Last season, Stevens was used in garbage time and in limited packages. He finished with 27 carries for 190 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 12 catches for 60 yards and a pair of scores; he also threw for 158 yards and three TDs.

But it's been his demeanor in accepting his role — coming up short of his goal to be the starter but still working harder than ever — that's impressed his teammates as much as McSorley has.

"Tommy and Trace are very alike in many ways: They're both winners, both competitors," offensive lineman Ryan Bates said. "Trace might be a little more vocal, and a little shorter than Tommy, but they're very much alike."

Added running back Miles Sanders: "He also has an extra year, so I can't wait for that."

Thanks to the combination of McSorley-Stevens, Penn State boasts the best quarterback situation in the Big Ten — if not the country. The Sporting News named McSorley college football's best quarterback, and some fans even called for Stevens to replace the prolific signal-caller at times last season.

They're both similar players, but they're not identical. Stevens is five inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier, and McSorley can be vocal in a pinch while Stevens chooses to lead more by example. Both are athletic, both are accurate, and both can beat opposing defenses on the run.

This will be Stevens' team in one more season. He understands that, but that doesn't mean he's going to wait another year to turn it up.

"Once the time starts ticking and you start realizing that, hey, you only got two years left, you got to start working harder," Stevens said. "When I got here, I wouldn't say I was slacking by any stretch of the imagination. … But I think once that thing starts ticking, you realize, hey, it's time to kick it up. So I've been working a little bit extra hard."

Added McSorley: "It's awesome to have him."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me